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Prometheus Research Series 5 

Marxist Politics or 
Unprincipled Combinationism? 

Internal Problems of the 
Workers Party 

by Max Shachtman 

Reprinted from Internal Bulletin No. 3, February 1936, 
of the Workers Party of the United States 

With Introduction and Appendices , 

^3$ Prometheus Research Library September*^ 

Marxist Politics or 
Unprincipled Combinationism? 

Internal Problems of the 
Workers Party 

by Max Shachtman 

Reprinted from Internal Bulletin No. 3, February 1936, 
of the Workers Party of the United States 

With Introduction and Appendices 

Prometheus Research Library 

New York, New York 

September 2000 

Prometheus graphic 
from a woodcut by Fritz Brosius 

ISBN 0-9633828-6-1 

Prometheus Research Series is published by 
Spartacist Publishing Co., Box 1377 GPO, New York, NY 10116 

Table of Contents 

Editorial Note 3 

Introduction by the Prometheus Research Library 4 

Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism? 

Internal Problems of the Workers Party, by Max Shachtman 19 

Introduction 19 

Two Lines in the Fusion 20 

The "French" Turn and Organic Unity 32 

Blocs and Blocs: What Happened at the CLA Convention 36 

The Workers Party Up To the June Plenum 42 

The Origin of the Weber Group 57 

A Final Note: The Muste Group 63 

Conclusion 67 

Appendix I 

Resolution on the Organizational Report of the National Committee, 

30 November 1934 69 

Appendix II 

Letter by Cannon to International Secretariat, 1 5 August 1935 72 

Letter by Glotzer to International Secretariat, 20 November 1935 76 

Appendix III 

National Committee of the Workers Party U.S., December 1934 80 

Glossary 81 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 

Editorial Note 

The documents in this bulletin have in large part been edited for stylistic 
consistency, particularly in punctuation, capitalization and emphasis, and to 
read smoothly for the modern reader. In "Marxist Politics or Unprincipled 
Combinationism?" we have used square brackets [ ] for our editorial insertions. 
Where material has been inserted by Shachtman, we have left his parentheses 
and his attribution ( — MS), occasionally adding the latter. 

We have reproduced the quotations and translations which appear in 
"Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" as presented in the origi- 
nal; they often differ from the texts published in the Pioneer, Pathfinder or 
Monad editions. We have corrected a few dates cited by Shachtman according 
to the dates provided in the latter editions. The given date should enable 
researchers to find many of the quoted articles and letters in those volumes. 

A glossary of individuals, organizations and acronyms possibly unfamiliar to 
the reader is provided starting on page 8 1 . Acronyms for various organizations 
have been written out in full when they first occur, both in the introduction and 
in the main document. In cases where an acronym is derived from a language 
other than English, the expansion in that language is given in the glossary. 

Prometheus Research Library 


This bulletin reprints Max Shachtman's article, 
"Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?", 
originally published in February 1936 in the Internal 
Bulletin of the Workers Party of the United States. 1 * 
The WPUS — formed in December 1934 through a 
fusion of the Trotskyist Communist League of America 
(CLA) and a leftward-moving centrist organization led 
by A. J. Muste called the American Workers Party 
(AWP) — was the revolutionary Trotskyist organization 
in the U.S. at the time. Shachtman's document, written 
when he was a close collaborator of pre-eminent Trots- 
kyist leader James P. Cannon, is an excellent presenta- 
tion of Leninist methods of internal party struggle, illu- 
minated through the political disputes which had roiled 
the CLA in its last year of existence and were then car- 
ried over into the WPUS. 

It was through these factional batdes, which cen- 
tered on the correct attitude and tactics toward reform- 
ist social-democratic parties internationally, that the 
young members of the former AWP were forged into 
Trotskyist cadre. Within the WPUS, a Leninist core 
around Cannon and Shachtman was pitted against 
both an ultraleft sectarian current led by Hugo Oehler 
and a rightist clique grouped around Martin Abern, 
Jack Weber and Albert Glotzer. In the course of the 
fight, Cannon and Shachtman won the WPUS major- 
ity. Oehler and his supporters were expelled in late 
1935 for repeated, flagrant violations of party disci- 
pline. In this document, written after the expulsion of 
the Oehlerites, Shachtman aims most of his fire at the 
poisonous personalism which had led the Weber- 
Abern-Glotzer clique to obstruct the fight against Oeh- 
ler. Shachtman's goal, as he notes in his introduction, 
was to draw lessons from the recent internal struggle in 
order to train the members of the Workers Party, par- 
ticularly its youth: 

Through its bloodstream must run a powerful resistance 
to the poison of clique politics, of subjectivism, of personal 
combinationism, of intrigue, of gossip.... It must learn 
to think politically, to be guided exclusively by political 
considerations, to argue out problems with themselves and 
with others on the basis of principles and to act always 
from motives of principle. 

The significance of "Marxist Politics or Unprincipled 
Combinationism?" transcends the confines of the partic- 
ular controversies which occurred over 60 years ago. The 
document is not only of broad political interest, but it 
also provides one of the only detailed accounts of 
the internal factional struggles in the later CLA and 

*Footnotes appear following the Introduction, starting on 
page 16. 

WPUS, written at the time by one of the participants. It 
should be read in conjunction with Cannon's 1944 rem- 
iniscences, published as The History of American Trotsky- 
ism. 2 We include here as Appendix I the "Resolution on 
the Organizational Report of the National Committee" 
adopted by the CIA's third and last convention in 
November 1934. 3 Although Shachtman wrote that 
he planned to append this resolution to his document, 
it did not appear in the WPUS Internal Bulletin as prom- 
ised. As Appendix II we reprint a report on the Workers 
Party written by Cannon in 1935 and addressed to the 
International Secretariat (I.S.) of the International 
Communist League (ICL), the Trotskyist international 
organization, as well as an effort to refute this report 
by Albert Glotzer. 4 Both are referred to in Shachtman's 
document. Appendix III lists the National Committee 
(NC) of the WPUS, established by the December 1934 
fusion conference. 

"Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combination- 
ism?" was written on the eve of the formal dissolution 
of the WPUS, which was a condition for its cadre to 
enter the American Socialist Party (SP). This entry tac- 
tic, which was first advocated in 1934 by Leon Trotsky 
for France, has become known as the "French turn." Its 
implementation by the WPUS was made, possible only 
by the sharp political struggle against Oehler, who 
opposed it in principle. The French turn proved more 
successful in the United States than elsewhere, and the 
Trotskyists emerged from the SP in the summer of 
1 937 with their membership doubled. They went on to 
found the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) at a National 
Convention which ended on 3 January 1938. The SWP 
remained the revolutionary Trotskyist organization in 
the United States until its descent into reformism in 

Cannon's Tradition, Not Shachtman's 

While Max Shachtman was the author of "Marxist 
Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" it does not 
represent the political positions or methodology attrib- 
utable to the later political current that bears his name. 
Shachtmanism is correctly characterized by Shachtman's 
renegacy — his flight from Trotskyism in 1939-40, 
when, under the influence of the petty-bourgeois anti- 
Communist hysteria which greeted the Hitler-Stalin 
pact, he abandoned the program of unconditional mili- 
tary defense of the Soviet Union on the eve of World War 
II. At that time, Shachtman allied himself with Martin 
Abern and James Burnham, who figure prominently in 
"Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" 
Burnham, a philosophy professor at New York Univer- 
sity and leader of the former AWP, is referred to in the 

documents we publish by his party name, West. In the 
course of the factional struggles detailed here by Shacht- 
man, Burnham was won to revolutionary Trotskyism. 
But his time as a Marxist leader lasted only a few years. 
In 1939-40, Burnham was the central ideological leader 
of the petty-bourgeois opposition which has since be- 
come associated with Shachtman's name. 

Trotsky waged the last factional struggle of his life 
against Shachtman, Burnham and Abern. Their argu- 
ment that the Hider-Stalin pact negated the program of 
unconditional military defense of the USSR was a fun- 
damental capitulation to bourgeois anti-Communism 
and represented a rejection of the Marxist methodology 
which Trotsky applied in characterizing the Soviet 
Union as a degenerated workers state. Burnham had in 
fact previously announced both his rejection of dialec- 
tical materialism and his view that the Soviet state rep- 
resented not a degenerated form of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat, but a new form of exploitative class soci- 
ety. In 1939-40, Shachtman and Abern did not openly 
reject the materialist foundations of Marxism as Burn- 
ham did. Moreover, Abern claimed to agree with Trot- 
sky that the Soviet Union was a degenerated workers 
state, while Shachtman declared himself agnostic on the 
class nature of the Soviet state. Nonetheless, as war 
began in Poland and Finland, Shachtman and Abern 
joined Burnham in rejecting the program of uncondi- 
tional military defense of the world's first workers state. 

Trotsky's devastating polemics against this whole- 
sale repudiation of the Marxist worldview were subse- 
quently collected and published by the SWP in an 
apdy tided volume, In Defense of Marxism} Burnham 
proved the point when he decamped from the Marxist 
movement shortly after the minority left the SWP to 
found a new organization, the Workers Party. Still en- 
sconced at NYU, Burnham wrote The Managerial Rev- 
olution in 1 94 1 , which posited that a new bureaucratic 
ruling class was the wave of the future. During WWII, 
he alternately cheered on either Hitler's Germany or 
Stalin's Russia, depending on which seemed to be win- 
ning at the time. Burnham eventually threw in his lot 
with the arch-reactionaries, sympathizers of clerical fas- 
cism and just plain snobs grouped around William 
Buckley's National Review. In the 1950s, he was a sur- 
prise witness for the government at Justice Department 
hearings in which the Shachtmanites were attempting to 
get themselves removed from the Attorney General's 
"subversive list." 

The Shachtmanite Workers Party, which claimed to 
be Marxist and even to support the Fourth Interna- 
tional, went on to become an exponent of the view that 
the Soviet Union was a new, "bureaucratic collectivist" 
form of class society, although it did not lump together 

fascism and Stalinism. This revisionist Workers Party 
— not to be confused with the Trotskyist WPUS 
of 1934-1936 — existed from 1940 to 1949, when it 
changed its name to the Independent Socialist League. 

Under the intense pressure of U.S. imperialism's 
anti-Soviet Cold War beginning in 1948, Shachtman 
came to see Stalinism as a danger greater than "dem- 
ocratic" imperialism — and to view it even as a 
new, world-encompassing system. In 1958, Shacht- 
man liquidated his organization into the rabidly anti- 
communist American social democracy, the Socialist 
Party-Social Democratic Federation. He ended his days 
as an open supporter of U.S. imperialism and member 
of the Democratic Party, backing the 1961 Bay of Pigs 
invasion of Cuba and the vicious, losing imperialist war 
against the Vietnamese social revolution. 

Shachtman had taken the first step along the road of 
reconciliation with U.S. imperialism in 1939. In reject- 
ing the Trotskyist program on the Russian Question, 
Shachtman also rejected the Leninist methods of inter- 
nal struggle which he so powerfully details in "Marxist 
Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" In his sem- 
inal 1940 article "Struggle for a Proletarian Party," 6 
Cannon skewered Abern, Shachtman and Burnham for 
their unprincipled bloc and general petty-bourgeois 
approach to politics, which put incidental organiza- 
tional grievances and personal ego over considerations 
of principle. This was a method condemned by the 
Shachtman of 1936 but practiced by the Shachtman 
of 1939-40. It was in reference to this flip-flop that 
Cannon later quipped, "Shachtman was always distin- 
guished not only by an extraordinary literary facility, 
but also by a no less extraordinary literary versatility, 
which enabled him to write equally well on both sides 
of a question. I believe in giving every man his due, and 
Shachtman is entided to that compliment." 7 

Cannon was unsurpassed in his ability to explain com- 
plicated Marxist ideas in simple language. "The Struggle 
for a Proletarian Party," written with Cannon's spare sharp- 
ness, has a clarity lacking in Shachtman's more lengthy 
and verbose "Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combina- 
tionism?" Yet both stand as major contributions to the 
arsenal of those seeking to build an international van- 
guard party in the Leninist tradition. Cannon's book 
was supplemented in 1940 by Joseph Hansen's essay 
"The Abern Clique," an expose of Abern's underhanded 
methods — for example, selective release of restricted 
political material which enabled him to gain authority 
as the purveyor of the "real scoop." 8 Hansen had only 
recendy broken from the clique, and he explains how this 
gossip mill simply fostered ill will toward the Cannon 
leadership and its "organizational methods" with a cor- 
responding disparaging of program and principle. 

What Hansen doesn't say, but Shachtman reveals 
toward the end of "Marxist Politics or Unprincipled 
Combinationism?", is that the Abern clique had its ori- 
gins in the "Shachtman faction" which had counterposed 
itself to the "Cannon faction" in a heated factional bat- 
de in the CLA from 1931 to 1933. Shachtmans docu- 
ment refers not to the Abern clique but to the "Weber 
group" or the "Weberites" because in 1934-35 Jack 
Weber was the principal political spokesman for Abern's 
circle. Widely discredited by his role in the CLA, Abern 
had refused to run for the National Committee and had 
withdrawn from an active leading role in the party. (For 
details, see Appendix I.) 

Thus, in 1936, Shachtman was polemicizing against 
those with whom he had allied in an essentially person- 
alist fight against Cannon in 1931-33, and with whom 
he would ally again in 1939-40. The Abern clique was 
the Shachtmanites. . . without Shachtman. In this docu- 
ment, Shachtman reveals his intimate knowledge of the 
clique's origins and mindset, reserving special venom 
for his longtime friend Albert Glotzer who, after 1939, 
would follow Shachtman through every twist and turn 
of his descent to social-patriotism. In later years, Glot- 
zer referred to Shachtmans 1936 treatise as "the dirtiest 
document ever put out" in the early American Trotsky- 
ist movement. 9 

It is therefore not surprising that those seeking to 
document the Shachtmanite tradition have sought to 
downplay, if not disappear, this major work by Shacht- 
man. It does not appear at all in the massive tome of 
reprints of Shachtmanite articles produced in Britain by 
the Labourite social-patriot Sean Matgamna, who is 
seeking to appropriate Shachtmans mande. 10 And this 
lengthy work doesn't even get a passing mention in Peter 
Drucker's biography of Shachtman. 11 Nor does any 
mention of it appear in Trotskyism in the United States: 
Historical Essays and Reconsiderations, which ostensibly 
stands in the tradition of Cannon. 12 

The Prometheus Research Library takes great pleasure 
in presenting to the radical public this document 
which the latter-day "historians" of Trotskyism have 
sought to disappear. Unlike the Stalinists, we do not dis- 
appear people from history and we do not denigrate the 
contributions made by renegades when they were still 
guided by Marxism and were active proponents of the 
workers' struggle against capitalism. Rather, we follow 
the example of Lenin, who continued to urge his follow- 
ers to study the early works of Plekhanov despite his 
social-patriotism during World War I and his opposition 
to the October Revolution. In earlier years, it was Plekha- 
nov who not only translated Marx's works into Russian 
but actively recruited a new generation to Marxism; one 
of those was Lenin. Shachtmans document was written 

during the period when he collaborated closely with 
Cannon and Trotsky, and it belongs in our tradition. 

The Communist League of America 

The American Trotskyist movement was born in 
October 1928, when Cannon and two of his key faction 
lieutenants, Shachtman and Abern, were expelled from 
the Workers (Communist) Party for Trotskyism. 13 A del- 
egate to the Sixth Congress of the Communist Interna- 
tional in 1928, Cannon received a partial copy of 
Trotsky's criticism of the draft program of the Commu- 
nist International. 14 For the first time, Cannon had 
before him a political analysis of the bureaucratic degen- 
eration of the Russian party and state, which had been 
given ideological justification in Stalin's dogma of "social- 
ism in one country." The disastrous defeat of the Second 
Chinese Revolution of 1925-27 had fully revealed the 
anti-revolutionary implications of this new dogma. 

In his introduction to Trotsky's critique, which the 
expelled Trotskyists soon published in pamphlet form, 
Cannon wrote of the Bolshevik-Leninist Opposition's 
fight against the Chinese Communist Party's disastrous 
subordination to the bourgeois-nationalist Guomindang: 

The Stalin-Bukharin leadership rejected all these pro- 
posals of the Leninist Opposition in favor of the Menshe- 
vik policy of union with the liberal bourgeoisie which in 
actual practice gave the hegemony to the bourgeoisie, 
prevented the real development of the independent Com- 
munist Party and led to the defeat of the working class. 
The bourgeois "allies" of the proletariat became the hang- 
men of the revolution just as the Opposition foretold. 15 

Trotsky's critique decoded the programmatic and inter- 
national roots of Cannon's manifest feeling of being at 
a dead end in the faction- ridden American party. 16 The 
CLA was founded in May 1929 by Cannon and some 
100 of his former factional supporters in the Com- 
munist Party (CP), most of whom had been expelled 
simply for questioning the propriety of Cannon's expul- 
sion. They were won to Trotskyism by reading the sec- 
tions of Trotsky's critique which Cannon was able to 
smuggle out of the USSR after the Sixth Congress. 

The American Trotskyists had the tremendous advan- 
tage of having functioned as part of an organized ten- 
dency in the old CP. However, like most of those won to 
Trotsky's International Left Opposition (ILO), they also 
had to unlearn the scholastic cant and administrative 
methods that had often substituted for Leninism in the 
degenerating Comintern. 

They had plenty of time for study. Almost simul- 
taneously with the Communist League of America's 
founding, the Communist International undertook a left 
turn which drastically undercut the Left Opposition's 
appeal to disaffected elements who had previously 

been open to its criticisms of the growing opportunist 
practice of the Comintern. The purpose of the turn 
was to justify Stalin's purge of his former bloc partners 
Bukharin and other rightists in the Russian party, whose 
disastrous policies of appeasement of the kulaks (well- 
off peasants able to hire labor) had brought the young 
Soviet Union to the brink of economic disaster (as the 
Left Opposition had predicted). Stalin's flip-flop led 
to the brutal forced collectivization of agriculture and 
an adventurist rate of industrialization in the USSR. It 
was accompanied by the decreeing of a new "Third 
Period" of post- World War I capitalism, with socialist 
revolution imminent internationally. The Communist 
Parties declared the trade unions under reformist leader- 
ship to be hopelessly reactionary and undertook to build 
their own "revolutionary" unions. They declared the 
mass reformist social-democratic parties to be "social fas- 
cist" and refused to engage in any united-front actions 
with them. 

The ILO identified itself as the international 
"Bolshevik- Leninist" current and considered itself an 
expelled faction of the Comintern, fighting to return the 
International to the program and practice that had ani- 
mated it during its first four years of existence. This was 
a necessary orientation given that the Comintern still 
organized the vast majority of the most class-conscious 
and revolutionary-minded workers internationally. How- 
ever, Stalin's left turn politically froze out the small 
Trotskyist propaganda groups from Communist-led 
mass organizations, a phenomenon which was reinforced 
by slander, exclusion and violence. This was the root of 
what Cannon later referred to as the "dog days" of the 
Left Opposition. 17 

It was in this context that the personal and organiza- 
tional tensions congealed in the CLA, creating a polar- 
ized organization in which a grouping of younger 
elements, centered around Shachtman, Abern, Glotzer 
and the Canadian Maurice Spector, fought against 
those around Cannon (Arne Swabeck, Oehler and the 
Minneapolis National Committee members Vincent 
Dunne and Carl Skoglund). These two factions fought 
on almost every detail of the organization's work. In 
later years, Cannon identified the roots of the CLA's 
factional polarization as follows: 

As we began to get the writings of Trotsky, it opened up 
a whole new world for us. And they [Abern and Shacht- 
man] discovered, that is my assumption, that while they 
had always taken what I said for gospel, they discovered 
that there were a lot of things I didn't know. That I was just 
beginning to learn from Trotsky. What they didn't know 
was that I was learning as well as they were. Shachtman at 
least, I think, had the idea that he had outgrown me. 18 
This polarization began to congeal in late 1931 
and lasted through 1933. There were, however, no 

programmatic or principled differences. As Shachtman 
details in the final sections of "Marxist Politics or 
Unprincipled Combinationism?", Trotsky intervened 
with great force to prevent a split and both factions 
agreed to dissolve in the spring of 1 933. 19 Over the course 
of the summer and fall of that year, the polarization grad- 
ually subsided. Shachtman's document gives a detailed 
account of the end of the Shachtman faction, which con- 
tinued organized meetings into January 1934. By this 
time, Shachtman and a few of his supporters, like Mor- 
ris Lewit and Sylvia Bleeker, had gone over to collabora- 
tion with Cannon. As Shachtman notes, "It is from that 
time that dates the birth of the Weber- Abern caucus!" 

The New Party Orientation 

Trotsky's intervention to end the CLA's factional 
polarization occurred just a few months before the ILO, 
on the basis of the manifest bankruptcy of the Com- 
intern's policy in Germany, declared the CI dead as a 
revolutionary force. As a result, the ILO raised the call 
for the construction of new parties internationally. It was 
the new possibility for intervention and growth coming 
off this turn, as much as Trotsky's intervention, which 
laid the basis for transcending the Shachtman vs. Can- 
non polarization in the CLA. Shachtman collaborated 
with Cannon in the process of taking advantage of the 
new opportunities — centrally the 1934 Minneapolis 
Teamsters strikes and the fusion with the AWP — while 
most of his former factional supporters around Abern 
skulked and obstructed, stuck in the "circle spirit" of a 
small-group existence. 

The Great Depression had thrown Germany into a 
crisis of a depth not seen since that provoked by the 
French invasion of the Ruhr in 1923. From exile since 
1929, Trotsky had been warning the German proletar- 
iat of the urgent need for joint action by the Social Dem- 
ocratic and Communist workers to smash the ominous 
threat posed by the fascists. 20 But the Stalinized Comin- 
tern, still in its "left" Third Period phase, denounced the 
Social Democrats as "social fascists," effectively equating 
the reformists (and their working-class base) with the 
Nazis. Thus, despite its numbers and organization, the 
German working class was split and Hider was allowed 
to come to power without any organized armed resis- 
tance. Following the appointment of Hider as chancel- 
lor in January 1 933 by the German president, General 
Paul von Hindenburg, the Nazis moved to destroy the 
organizations of the German workers, both Social Dem- 
ocratic and Communist, and set Germany on the course 
to WWII. 

The victory of fascism in Germany in 1933 marked 
not only the imminent prospect of a second imperialist 
world war but the death knell of the Comintern as an 


instrument for revolution. When no internal opposition 
was raised to the Comintern's reaffirmation of the 
German Communist Party's disastrous course, Trotsky 
argued that the Left Opposition could no longer func- 
tion as an expelled faction of the Comintern — the ILO's 
sections had to become the embryos of new parties. 21 At 
the same time, Trotsky saw that because of the manifest 
bankruptcy of the Comintern, left currents were emerg- 
ing in and from the reformist social-democratic parties. 
He urged an orientation to these new forces. In August 
1933, a plenum of the ILO officially adopted the new 
course toward formation of the Fourth International, 
and in September the CLA enthusiastically did likewise. 
The ILO reconstituted itself as the International Com- 
munist League. 

The first fruit of the new policy internationally was 
"The Declaration of Four," signed in August 1933 by the 
ILO and three centrist formations: the German Social- 
ist Workers Party (S.A.P.), the Independent Socialist 
Party of Holland (OSP) and the Revolutionary Social- 
ist Party of Holland (RSP). The declaration, written 
by Trotsky, presented an eleven-point synopsis of the 
German catastrophe and the failure of the Comintern to 
address it and called for the organization of a new 
(fourth) international. 22 It was presented to a conference 
of left Socialist and Communist organizations and was 
designed to be a step on the road to regroupment with 
leftward-moving centrist forces internationally. The 
formation of the Workers Party of the U.S. represented 
the successful application of this regroupment policy on 
the American terrain. 

Negotiations with the 
American Workers Party 

The turn to the new party orientation was accompa- 
nied in the United States by an upswing in the class 
struggle as the working class began to recover from the 
fear and economic uncertainty which accompanied the 
onset of the Great Depression. Hatred of the Republi- 
can administration of Herbert Hoover was such that 
Franklin D. Roosevelt rode into office in a landslide in 
1932 — an election which also saw a combined vote of 
over one million for the Communist and Socialist Party 
candidates. A wave of strikes hit the auto industry as 
1933 began, impelling Roosevelt to sign the National 
Industrial Recovery Act which gave nominal legal sanc- 
tion to the workers' right to organize. 

In early 1934, the CLA increased publication of the 
party press, the Militant, to three times a week in prep- 
aration for an industry-wide strike in the New York 
City hotels. A number of CLA members had been 
active in the union, including B.J. Field, who had been 
elected union secretary. Field was an intellectual who 

had been expelled from the CLA in 1931 for indisci- 
pline but was readmitted at the urging of Trotsky. As 
the strike progressed, Field bent to the pressure of the 
newly created government Labor Board and disre- 
garded the party fraction and leadership. Field and a 
few of his supporters were expelled from the CLA in the 
midst of the batde and led the strike to defeat. 23 The 
Fieldites complained bitterly about the "Cannon and 
Shachtman leadership," the first time this amalgam was 
ever made in the CLA 24 

The CIA had already initiated preparations for a 
new theoretical journal, the New International, as part 
of the regroupment orientation. The Trotskyists had 
also engaged in talks with Ben Gidow's group, a recent 
split from Jay Lovestone's Right Opposition (supporters 
of Bukharin), though these talks went nowhere. In the 
midst of preparations for the hotel strike, the Trotsky- 
ists addressed an open letter to A. J. Muste's American 
Workers Party proposing that negotiations be opened 
toward fusion. Formerly called the Conference for Pro- 
gressive Labor Action (CPLA), Muste's organization 
had declared the necessity of building a new revolution- 
ary party at its convention in late 1933, insisting: 

The revolutionary struggle of the masses against the cap- 
italist system which more and more depresses their stan- 
dard of living, takes various forms. . . . The primary form is 
the economic struggles of the worker and farmer. The 
struggle is, however, inspired, coordinated, carried to its 
goal of taking power, by the revolutionary political party. 25 

Muste had been active in the labor movement since 
his involvement in the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile 
strike in 1919. A former pacifist and preacher in the 
Dutch Reformed church, he was director of the Brook- 
wood Labor College to educate young workers organiz- 
ers in the 1920s. Both Morris Lewit and Sylvia Bleeker 
of the CLA attended classes there. 26 Muste's supporters 
had been the most visible force for "progressive," but 
generally pro-capitalist, trade-union activism in the 
early years of the Depression. They were moving left- 
ward under the hammer blows of the Depression and 
Hider's rise to power, but the AWP remained a hetero- 
geneous organization, as Cannon later recalled: 

In fact, it could be properly described as a political 
menagerie which had within it every type of political spe- 
cies. Put another way, the membership of the AWP 
included everything from proletarian revolutionists to 
reactionary scoundrels and fakers. 27 

The most well-known anti-communist social demo- 
crat in the AWP leadership was J. B. Salutsky-Hardman, 
editor of the journal of Sidney Hillman's Amalgamated 
Clothing Workers Union. Other rightist opponents of 
fusion included Ludwig Lore and his son Karl. A colum- 
nist for the bourgeois New York Post, the elder Lore was 

in 1934 moving toward the open social-patriotism he 
later adopted. 

Not only did the CLA leadership have to politically 
isolate or at least neutralize the AWP right wing, but 
they had to deal with a nascent opposition to the fusion 
perspective within the League itself. Hugo Oehler, a full 
member of the CLA National Committee, justified this 
opposition by arguing that the New York resident NC 
members, centrally Jim Cannon, Max Shachtman and 
Arne Swabeck, were moving too fast on negotiations 
with other organizations when they should have been 
concentrating on reorganizing and consolidating the 
League. By March 1934, Oehler was writing to the out- 
of-town NCers explaining that the New York resident 
committee was polarized on the question: "Jim, Max 
and Arne vs. Hugo. Marty [Abern] not taking a posi- 
tion yet. •"• 

Cannon had developed a close personal relationship 
with Oehler in the early 1930s. They had similar roots. 
Oehler had taken over the Kansas City Communist 
Party organization when Cannon moved into the cen- 
tral party leadership in the early 1920s. One of the CP's 
best trade-union field operators, Oehler had been the 
organizer of District 10, which was headquartered in 
Kansas City and encompassed ten western states. He 
remained in the CP as an agent of the Trotskyists for 
the first year of the CLAs existence and helped lead the 
heroic Gastonia, North Carolina textile strike in 1929. 
With litde formal education, Oehler acquired most of 
his book learning in local libraries when he was a field 
organizer, waiting for the men to get off work. 29 He was 
to reveal the obtuseness and rigidity typical of an auto- 
didact, but as Cannon later noted, "He was not a typi- 
cal sectarian... yapping on the sidelines, telling every- 
body what to do." Retaining a great respect for Oehler 
as a mass worker, Cannon recalled that their personal 
break was "a very agonizing separation." 30 

It was not internal opposition but the class struggle 
which intervened in early 1934 to put CLA- AWP 
negotiations on the back burner. In May, the AWP led a 
strike at the Toledo Auto-Lite factory, mobilizing unem- 
ployed workers in mass picket lines and facing down 
the National Guard in a six-day pitched batde. That 
same month, CLA supporters in Minneapolis led an 
eleven-day citywide truck drivers strike, during which 
the union virtually controlled the city, finally winning 
union recognition for the Teamsters. However, the 
bosses attempted to renege on the deal, forcing the 
Trotskyists to lead the drivers out again for 36 days in 
July- August. They won a definitive union victory, break- 
ing the power of the bourgeois Citizens Alliance and its 
gangs of thugs in what had been a notorious open-shop 
town. The Minneapolis victory occurred shordy after an 

eleven-week strike by San Francisco longshoremen ended 
with a government-brokered arbitration deal that even- 
tually led to a union victory. The San Francisco batde, 
which had included a two-day citywide general strike in 
May, was led by supporters of the Communist Party. 

As it won the victory in Minneapolis, the CLA moved 
ahead with the regroupment orientation. In July, they 
published the first issue of the New International. In 
August, they concretized plans to launch a united-front 
defense organization, the Non-Partisan Labor Defense 
League, modeled on the CP's International Labor 
Defense under Cannon. They drew in Herbert Solow 
and some prominent liberals in the orbit of the AWP. 
In the fall, negotiations for unity between the AWP and 
CLA began in earnest, propelled by the victories that 
each organization had recendy led. 31 By this time, how- 
ever, the CLA was again in the midst of a serious fac- 
tional battle, with Oehler leading an ultraleft opposi- 
tion to Trotsky's proposed tactics toward the reformist 
social-democratic party in France, the SFIO (French 
Section of the Labor [Second] International). 

The French Turn and "Organic Unity" 

The victory of fascism in Germany had a tremendous 
impact on the working class internationally. France was 
rocked by social crisis when French fascists carried out 
an armed demonstration in February 1934, targeting the 
French parliament. While not a serious military attack, 
the demonstration had its intended effect: the Daladier 
regime was replaced by a "strong" cabinet led by Gaston 
Doumergue. Also in February, the clerical-fascist Doll- 
fuss government in Austria moved to militarily suppress 
the Austrian Social Democracy. Despite a general strike 
and armed resistance by the Vienna workers, they were 
defeated by government artillery and the Social Demo- 
cracy was crushed. 

Under the threat of fascism, French workers and 
youth began to flock to the SFIO and drive it to the left. 
Strong pressure was building in the working class base 
of the SFIO and the French CP (PCF) for unity against 
the fascists. 

In March 1934, Trotsky proclaimed the urgency of 
the crisis in an article, "France Is Now the Key to the 

The Second and Third Internationals have played them- 
selves out. Now they are only obstacles on the road of the 
proletariat. It is necessary to build a revolutionary organ- 
ization corresponding to the new historic epoch and its 
tasks. It is necessary to pour new wine into new bottles. It 
is necessary to build a genuinely revolutionary party in 
every country. It is necessary to build a new International. 

The thinking worker must recognize the iron logic of 
these conclusions. But doubt born of the all-too-recent 


disappointments rises in him. A new party? This means 
new splits. But the proletariat needs unity above every- 
thing else. This is simply a pretext, largely arising from a 
reluctance to face great difficulties. 

We reply that it is not true that the proletariat is in need 
of unity in and of itself. It needs revolutionary unity in 
the class struggle. In Austria almost the whole proletariat 
was united under the banner of the Social Democracy; 
but this party taught the workers capitulation, not 
fight.... Opportunistic "unity" has proven itself to be the 
road to ruin.... 

We need genuine, revolutionary, fighting unity: for the 
resistance against fascism, for the defense of our right to 
live, for an irreconcilable struggle against bourgeois rule, 
for the full conquest of power, for the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, for the workers' state, for the Soviet United 
States of Europe, for the Socialist World Republic? 2 

In France, where both the SFIO and the Communist 
Party were mass parties, there arose a proposal for 
"organic unity," i.e., the actual fusion of the two parties 
into one. The urge for unity welling up from the ranks 
of the PCF and SFIO represented a healthy sentiment 
for class unity against a rightly perceived foe. But the 
Communists still ostensibly stood for the organization 
of the proletarian vanguard into a party separate from 
and opposed to the reformist, pro-imperialist social 
democracy. The PCF still held sway over the vast major- 
ity of workers who looked to the example of the Russian 
Revolution. A fusion with the SFIO would have repre- 
sented a repudiation of the principled split in the work- 
ers movement which Lenin had carried out in the pro- 
cess of forming the Third International after the betrayal 
of the Second International in WWI. 

Yet the SFIO was moving steadily to the left, in part 
because it was attracting leftward-moving elements 
repelled by the evident bureaucratic bankruptcy of the 
Stalinists, a trend which was also manifesting itself inter- 
nationally. In November 1933, the SFIO expelled the 
right-wing members of its parliamentary fraction. At its 
Toulouse congress in May 1934, the party voted against 
forming further coalition governments with the bour- 
geois Radical Party and invited expelled left-wingers to 
rejoin the party. 

In June, Trotsky proposed that the Ligue Commu- 
niste de France enter the SFIO: 

The League (like other sections) was forced to develop 
as an isolated propaganda group. This determined both 
its positive sides (an honest and serious attachment to the 
principles) and its negative sides (observing the labor 
movement from the outside). In the course of the elab- 
oration of the principles and methods of the Left Oppo- 
sition, the positive sides of the League carried the day. At 
present, when it becomes necessary to circulate the accu- 
mulated capital, the negative sides are threatening to get 
the upper hand.... 

It is necessary to go to the masses. It is necessary to find 
a place for oneself within the framework of the united 
front, i.e., within the framework of one of the two parties 
of which it is composed. In actual practice, that means 
within the framework of the SFIO. 33 

It was impossible for the Trotskyists to function as a 
faction of the Communist Party — Stalinist lies, perse- 
cution, disruption and slander against the Left Oppo- 
sition were about to escalate into outright murder and 
assassination. The only practical option was to enter 
the SFIO. 

Trotsky had earlier criticized the French Ligue for 
not polemicizing sufficiendy against the SFIO leader- 
ship. He now argued: 

To exist as an independent organization and thereby 
not to demarcate oneself sharply from the Social Demo- 
crats means to risk becoming an appendage of Social 
Democracy. To enter openly {under the given concrete 
conditions) the Social Democratic party in order to 
develop an inexorable struggle against the reformist lead- 
ership means to perform a revolutionary act. 34 

The entry tactic known as the French turn was also 
applied in Belgium and a number of other countries 
from 1934 to 1936. The disastrous consequences oinot 
employing Trotsky's tactic were revealed in Spain. Pre- 
ferring unity with the evolving reformists of the Span- 
ish Right Opposition, the Bolshevik-Leninists in Spain, 
led by Andres Nin, ignored the radicalizing Socialist 
Party despite Trotsky's intense argumentation. This left 
the field open to the Stalinists, who captured the whole 
of the SP youth group in 1935, a key accretion of forces 
which helped give them the basis to betray the Spanish 
Revolution of 1936-37. 

Opposition to the tactic in the French Ligue came 
from two quarters. A group around Rene Lhuillier 
opposed the turn in principle, arguing that it repre- 
sented a liquidation of the vanguard party as pro- 
pounded by Lenin; a small group around Pierre Naville 
also opposed the turn. In the German section of the 
International Communist League, the opposition was 
led by E. Bauer. What all these currents ignored, as 
Trotsky wrote, was that "the League is not yet a party. 
It is an embryo, and an embryo needs covering and 
nourishment in order to develop." 35 That Lhuillier and 
Bauer's "principled" opposition was simply the flip side 
of an opportunist desire to accommodate to social 
democracy became apparent within a year or two: 
Lhuillier's group entered the SFIO and remained, even 
after the core of the Trotskyists were expelled, while 
Bauer's abandoned the ICL for the centrist S.A.P. 

While he continued to claim solidarity with the ICL, 
Oehler organized his opposition inside the CLA in sol- 
idarity with Lhuillier and Bauer. A representative of the 


Bauer group, Paul Kirchhoff (referred to here by his 
party name Eiffel), came to the United States to assist 
Oehler in organizing opposition to the Cannon- 
Shachtman leadership. Oehler and Eiffel won over 
-Louis Basky, a founding CLA member and former 
leader of the CP's Hungarian-language federation, and 
Tom Stamm, a young CLA cadre. Both Basky and 
Stamm had been supporters of the Cannon faction in 
the 1931-33 CLA faction fight. 

The fight against Oehler's ultraleftism was gready 
complicated by the fact that the Weber- Abern group 
seized on the issue of "organic unity" to organize a 
third factional grouping. Though they supported the 
majority line on the French turn, Weber, Abern and 
Glotzer revealed their underlying opportunism by in- 
sisting that the ICL should also support the slogan of 
"organic unity," which meant, in essence, a return to 
the Kautskyan conception of the "party of the whole 
class." Cannon and Shachtman vehemently opposed 
the position of the Weberites, as well as that of Oehler, 
and won a slim majority of the CLA National Commit- 
tee. Cannon was sent as the CLA delegate to an ICL 
plenum held in October 1934 to decide the issue. The 
NC issued the following instructions to Cannon: 

1 . To endorse the action taken by the French League in 
entering in bloc as an independent faction into the SFIO. 

2. To recognize the Bolshevik- Leninist faction of the 
SFIO as the French section of the L.I.C. [ICL] — and no 
other. To urge that the dissident comrades of the minor- 
ity shall subordinate themselves to this section. To declare 
that any arrangement of forces that the International Ple- 
num may deem necessary for the French section (possible 
group outside of the SFIO, or fraction inside the CP, etc.) 
shall be conducted under the auspices and the direction 
of the above-mentioned French section of the L.I.C. 

3. To oppose the standpoint that "organic unity" as such 
is a "progressive step," and that the Bolshevik-Leninists 
shall become the proponents of such a slogan. That in all 
conditions and with all developments that may take place 
in the ranks of the working class or in the bureaucracy of 
the two principal parties, the Bolshevik-Leninists shall, 
under all circumstances, point out the illusory and reac- 
tionary character of "organic unity" as such (even under 
present "French conditions") and to emphasize instead 
Unity on a Revolutionary program in a Revolutionary 
Party. 36 

The NC majority was certainly correct in its politi- 
cal thrust, but it should be noted that the practice of 
issuing such binding instructions is antithetical to Len- 
inist decision-making, which requires discussion and 
deliberation in the highest party bodies, with delegates 
free to change their minds on the basis of the discus- 
sion. The international plenum approved the French 
turn. While Cannon arrived in Paris too late to take 

part in its proceedings, he was able to spend several days 
talking with Trotsky, who had taken refuge in southern 

Fusion with the AWP 

While Cannon was in France, Shachtman and 
Muste came to agreement on a Declaration of Princi- 
ples for the proposed new party, defeating the AWP 
right wing and Stalinist-influenced elements like 
Louis Budenz who were attempting to prevent fusion. 
(Budenz was later to turn up as the editor of the Daily 
Worker.) Within the CLA, Oehler strongly opposed the 
draft Declaration. It was only after Cannon returned 
and renegotiated certain sections with Muste that Oeh- 
ler and his supporters finally agreed to accept it as the 
basis for unity. Cannon thought Oehler had made far 
too much of an issue out of political imprecisions in the 
first draft. In oudine notes for a speech on the subject, 
he wrote of Oehler, "He seized the faults of the first 
draft to sow panic and break. I saw it as a basis on main 
points of difference to force thru fusion on clear pro- 
gram." 37 In additional speech notes Cannon wrote: 

Don't mean to question Oehlerites loyalty or to exclude 
or expel them but interests of our movement, the Int. and 
of the New Parry demand their political defeat. 38 

The political confusion of the CIA's Third National 
Convention, held in late November 1934, is described 
in detail in Shachtman's "Marxist Politics or Unprinci- 
pled Combinationism?" 39 With three major factional 
groupings contending, none of the initial motions on 
fusion with the AWP was adopted. Cannon finally got a 
majority when he submitted a bare-bones motion that 
supported fusion while avoiding every other disputed 
question. The elections for the new National Commit- 
tee (which was to become one-half of the fused party's 
NC according to the fifty-fifty arrangement Cannon and 
Muste had worked out) resulted in a particularly messy 
all-night session. The CLAers went straight from this ses- 
sion into the fusion convention on 1-2 December 1934. 

All of the CIA's organized groupings agreed to dis- 
solve and not take the fight into the WPUS. But the 
personal/political divisions went deep. In the face of 
these, the speech notes Cannon wrote for the conven- 
tion banquet sound almost like a cry of defiance: 

De Morticus nil nisi Bonum. In a sense we die — But 
also rebirth. We endured. We survived. Our opportunity 
has come. Our hour has struck. We are ready — prepared. 
The memory of 6 yrs is dear to us. Proud of them. Rich 
& fruitful time of preparation. LD: "Steeled." Regret 
nothing & repent nothing. Go forward — & take our 
banner with us. 40 

One of the programmatic compromises agreed to by 
the CLA deserves special note — the WPUS was not to 


be an official section of Trotsky's International Com- 
munist League: 

The Party, at its launching, is affiliated with no other 
group, party, or organization in the United States or else- 
where. Its National Committee is empowered to enter 
into fraternal relations with groups and parties in other 
countries, and, if they stand on the same fundamental 
program as its own, to cooperate with them in the elab- 
oration of a complete world program and the speediest 
possible establishment of the new revolutionary Interna- 
tional. Action on any organizational affiliation must be 
submitted to a National Convention of the Party. 41 

This principled compromise correctly made the party's 
participation in the preparations for the launching of 
the Fourth International a programmatic question. 
Oehler, who accused Trotsky's ICL of unprincipled 
"liquidationism," was more than happy to agree to the 
provision not to immediately affiliate. Oehler and his 
faction entered the WPUS determined to obstruct the 
party's affiliation with the international Trotskyist 


"Organic Unity": A Non-Issue 

Soon after fusion, the wind was taken out of Glotzer, 
Weber and Abern's sails when Trotsky wrote opposing 
the French Ligue's raising the slogan of "organic unity": 

I already considered it wrong to raise the demand for 
organic unity in the abstract because the entire leadership 
of the SFIO defended this demand as their main demand 
every day. Under these circumstances and since, on the 
other hand, the demand itself met with a quite confused 
but very sympathetic and sincere reception among the 
masses, it would obviously be wrong to come out against 
this demand. But it was entirely sufficient to say to the 
masses: unity is very good, but we must immediately try 
to make it understood: Unity for whati We must use the 
discussion about organic unity to make propaganda for 
our program. 42 

In May 1935, soon after Trotsky wrote his letter, 
Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with France — the 
Stalin-Laval pact — in which Stalin accepted the "national 
defense" of France against Germany. This heralded the 
abandonment of the Third Period in favor of the popular 
front. Under the guise of fighting fascism, the Stalinists 
advocated unity of the workers movement with the "pro- 
gressive" and "democratic" elements of the bourgeoisie, 
i.e., those elements who were already in diplomatic alli- 
ance with the USSR and those with whom Stalin sought 
to make an alliance. This repudiation of the political 
independence of the working class was made explicit at 
the Comintern's Seventh, and final, Congress, held in 
July-August 1935 and dubbed by Trotsky the "Liquida- 
tion Congress." 43 

From this point on — except for a brief episode of 
ersatz Leninism during the Hitler-Stalin pact — the Com- 

munist Parties internationally gave up all but the barest 
pretense of standing on Lenin's 1914 irreconcilable break 
with reformism and social patriotism. There were, how- 
ever, substantial impediments to the unity of Stalinism 
and social democracy. When he was still a revolutionary 
Marxist, James Burnham explained: 

Though there is now a temporary political coincidence 
in essential matters between the social democracy and 
Stalinism, the crucial facr remains that social democracy 
and Stalinism reach this position from different direc- 
tions. Social democracy and Stalinism have been and re- 
main the expression of different class forces and interests. 
The social democratic bureaucracy, in a crisis (war, insur- 
rection), functions as the agent of finance capital within 
the ranks of the working class. The Stalinist bureaucracy, 
on the other hand, functions as the agent of the corrupt, 
parasitic and reactionary ruling strata of the Soviet 
Union — that is, of the workers' state — within the tanks of 
the working class. For the moment, the interests of the 
two buteaucracies coincide, but because of the differing 
social roots, thete can be no guarantee in advance that 
they will continue indefinitely in the future to coincide. 

Stalinism must attempt to keep a free hand, to be in a 
position to make another sudden and sharp turn. For 
example, if the Franco-Soviet Pact should be repudiated, 
and a rapprochement between France and Germany take 
place, the entire Stalinist policy in France, and the war 
position of the CI as a whole would have to be profoundly 
altered. This would spike organic unity developments, 
since Blum and his companions of the SFIO leadership 
would in that event, though changing phrases, no doubt 
still remain basically devoted to the bourgeois fatherland. 44 

The degeneration of the Stalinists into outright social 
democrats did not occur until the advent of Eurocom- 
munism in the 1 970s. First in Spain and Italy and then 
in France, the major West European CPs broke their ties 
to Moscow as a signal of their fealty to the capitalist 
order. This was their admission ticket to the popular- 
front governments which have ruled these countries for 
the past decade or more. This process presaged the col- 
lapse of the ossified and discredited Stalinist bureaucra- 
cies in 1 989-92 in the East European deformed workers 
states and the Soviet Union which culminated in capi- 
talist counterrevolution. 45 

In any case, "organic unity" had always been essen- 
tially a red herring in the CLA, a pretext for the Weber- 
Abern clique to claim a political basis for existence. 
They soon found other pretexts, filling Muste's ears 
with their objections to Cannon's "organizational meth- 
ods," obstructing and muddying the fight against Oeh- 
ler, as Shachtman lays out in his document. 

The American Socialist Party 

Even before the fusion with the AWP, the CLA 
leadership had been probing the emerging left wing 
within the American SP. The SP had begun to fracture 


after the death of longtime leader Morris Hillquit 
in October 1933. Lovestone's Right Opposition was 
also assiduously following these developments, as was 
the Stalinist Communist Party. In a memorandum 
Shachtman submitted to the CLA resident committee 
in May 1934, he described the divisions in the SP as 

1. The group with the greatest number of delegates, the 
"Militants." Its second program, just issued, is a typically 
centrist program, and not of the best type. Its victory is best 
calculated to save reformist right-wing socialism in the 
United States. It avowedly strives for a second (and conse- 
quently more miserable) edition of the 2Vz International 
of Vienna. Juggling with a few Marxian phrases, its objec- 
tive role (and in some cases, at least, without any doubt, 
its subjective intention) is to prevent the movement of the 
left-wing workers in the SP toward communism. 

2. The group with the smallest number of delegates, the 
Revolutionary Policy Committee [RPC]. Here is a cen- 
trist group of different kidney. It represents more clearly 
than any other current in the SP in the last dozen years 
the honest groping of revolutionary workers toward com- 
munism. Its program, unsatisfactorily brief (far terser 
than that of the Militants, and even inferior to it in cer- 
tain secondary points) is closest to the communist pro- 
gram. It carries a good deal of Lovestone's ideological bag- 
gage, but the latter is so light that an active, fermenting 
group, fraternally assisted by us, can throw off most if not 
all of it without too much difficulty. 

3. The right-wing bureaucracy, probably carrying in 
tow on all decisive questions such honest fools as Norman 
Thomas and other professional confusionists. It appears 
that it will be, numerically, a minority, although it con- 
trols and will continue to control all the "heavy" and 
"opulent" institutions of official socialism in the country 
(Forward, Rand School, trade-union apparatuses and 
sinecures, etc., etc.). 46 

Shachtman advocated that the CLA attempt to form 
its own faction in the SP to fight for the Trotskyist pro- 
gram, seeking to win members of the RPC in particu- 
lar away from the policy of conciliating the Militants. 
At the June 1934 SP convention, Thomas blocked with 
the Militants and they won the majority; the RPC 
collapsed. Cannon, who had been sent as an observer 
to the convention, advocated that the CLA regroup 
the leftist remnants of the RPC into a new national 
faction. 47 Over the next few months, as it moved 
toward fusion with the AWP, the CLA evidendy also 
had some modest success with perspectives in the SP. 
SPers who were won to the CLA's program were coun- 
seled to stay in the SP and fight. Chicago lawyer Albert 
Goldman, who had been won to the CLA from the 
Communist Party in early 1933 over Germany, refused 
to fuse with the AWP and announced he would enter 
the SP instead. He was expelled from the CLA, but the 

journal he founded in the SP, Socialist Appeal, would 
later prove very useful to the Trotskyists during their 

The Fight in the WPUS 

In the months following the 1934 fusion, Cannon 
and Shachtman were busy isolating and defeating for- 
mer AWP right-wingers like Budenz, who — on his way 
into the Communist Party — argued that the WPUS 
should present "socialism" as an amendment to the 
U.S. Constitution. But Oehler, believing that Cannon 
and Shachtman's real aim was to enter the SP, aimed his 
fire against the French turn. Entry into the American 
SP was an unrealistic perspective as long as the rightist 
SP "Old Guard" controlled the organization in New 
York, where the majority of WPUS members lived. But 
Cannon righdy argued that the WP had to pay atten- 
tion to developments in the SP: 

There is no reasonable ground that I can see for the asser- 
tion that our road leads through the Socialist Party, but 
I do believe most decidedly that the development of our 
movement into a mass party leads through a fusion of our 
party with the eventually developed left wing in the SP. 
We have a tremendous advantage over the revolutionary 
groups in Europe in the fact that we have a fairly secure 
independent position, a strong press and seasoned cadres. 
This ought to put us in a position to make terms with the 
left Socialists who eventually come to the point of a revo- 
lutionary position; but we will never get to this point if we 
do not have a correct and realistic tactic toward the SP. One 
of the really big and in my opinion irreconcilable issues 
between us and the Oehler- Zack combination is indeed 
over this question of the estimation of the SP and CP. We 
have a dozen instances in the past weeks from the positions 
they have taken to show that if they make a distinction 
between the CP and SP it is in favor of the former. 48 

Oehler began to campaign against the ICL's "capitula- 
tion" to the social democracy, also charging that Trotsky 
wielded far too much authority in the international 
organization. He won a small following for his views, 
centered in the New York local and youth group. In a 
report to the International Secretariat, Cannon, Swa- 
beck and Shachtman complained that the Oehlerites 

advanced the charge that we are scheming to take the 
WP into the American Socialist Party. To this were added 
outrageous slanders to the effect that Cannon and Shacht- 
man were already collaborating secretly with SP right wing 
and "Militant" leaders. Such contacts as we had in the SP 
were poisoned by this slander campaign, militating against 
our efforts to influence the leftward movements. 49 

The documents we reprint in this bulletin describe the 
WPUS discussion in detail, so we give only a brief over- 
view here. Oehler and his supporters brought the fight 
into the open at the new party's first national gathering, 
an Active Workers Conference held in Pittsburgh in 


March 1935. Cannon later described this event as a "fac- 
tional shambles such as I have never seen before in such 
a setting." 50 Nonetheless, at an NC plenum which con- 
vened in Pittsburgh at the same time, Muste and most 
of the former AWPers voted to condemn Oehler's views 
and to collaborate with the ICL and the Dutch RSAP 
(Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party) of Henricus 
Sneevliet in preparations for a founding conference of the 
Fourth International. 51 

After the Pittsburgh meetings, Cannon and Shacht- 
man moved to politically defeat the Oehlerites and stop 
them from paralyzing the party's activity. They took 
aim at Joseph Zack, who had joined forces with Oehler 
soon after coming over to the WPUS from the Com- 
munist Party. Zack, who retained a good dose of Third 
Period dual unionism, was expelled for publicly assert- 
ing views which were not those of the WPUS. 

An NC plenum was called for June, and Cannon and 
Shachtman geared up for an all-out fight. But Muste, his 
ears filled with Weber-Abern poison against Cannon's 
"organizational methods," balked. The political basis for 
Muste's virtual bloc with Oehler and the Weber-Abern 
clique at this time was later explained by Cannon: 

By the time of the June Plenum Muste had become 
more and more suspicious that we might possibly have 
some ideas about the Socialist Party that would infringe 
upon the integrity of the Workers Party as an organiza- 
tion. He was dead set against that, and he entered into a 
virtual, though informal, bloc with the Oehlerites. 52 
The plenum only narrowly carried (by a vote of eight to 
seven) a resolution by Cannon and Shachtman calling 
on the WP to sign the "Open Letter for the Fourth 
International." 53 This document, following on the ear- 
lier "Declaration of Four," was cosigned by the ICL and 
RSAP as well as the Workers Party. It established a Pro- 
visional Contact Committee to issue an internal bulle- 
tin and make preparations for an international Trotsky- 
ist conference. Muste advocated that the German S.A.P. 
also be approached to sign the Open Letter but his 
motion failed five to ten. 54 Muste's proposal represented 
a step backward from the political and programmatic 
clarification that had been achieved since the signing of 
"The Declaration of Four." 

At the June Plenum, the Cannon-Shachtman leader- 
ship was in a minority on most other issues: Muste's 
bloc with Oehler, bolstered by the Abern- Weber clique, 
carried the day. The plenum voted to open a party dis- 
cussion on international relations and on the party's 
attitude toward the CP and SP. This was a fluid situa- 
tion, and for many of the former AWP members it was 
their first experience of factional political struggle. One 
such was Ted Grant, a worker from Ohio who came 
from the AWP into the Workers Party. His recollection 

of the June Plenum showed what a powerful impact 
Cannon had: 

When the plenum finally returned to the agenda I could 
see Jim with sleeves rolled up, a carton of milk for his ulcer 
in front of him, his face icy calm as he concentrated on his 
notes. He looked like a fighter waiting for the bell. When 
he rose to speak an unusual thing happened — the hubbub 
subsided and the stormy hall became silent. We fully 
expected him to shout brutal insults, loud denunciations, 
etc., but to our complete surprise Jim spoke quiedy, calmly, 
and convincingly in language that any ordinary worker 
could understand. He began with a rich, all-sided exam- 
ination of the rapid changes that were taking place in the 
SP, painstakingly explaining why it was important for us 
to give our major attention to its emerging left wing. 
Because the SP was much larger than we were, the ferment 
in its ranks was attracting and recruiting worker activists 
and rebel youth while the WP was stymied. There wasn't 
much time to take advantage of this opportunity because 
the Stalinists and Lovestoneites were ready to move in and 
grab off these militants. He reminded us that the WP was 
not yet a party, simply the propaganda nucleus with which 
we could build a mass workers' party. He spelled out the 
methods we would use, e.g., more articles about them in 
our press, personal contacts, establishment of Trotskyist 
fractions. Exacdy how we would unify our forces organiza- 
tionally with their best elements would have to await fur- 
ther developments. Finally, he said, this question will not 
be settled here; we will launch a full-scale democratic dis- 
cussion of the political differences with the aim of educat- 
ing the whole party. Then the rank and file of the party 
will make the final decision at a convention — that's the 
Marxist method. 

This Bolshevik method of a free, democratic, organized 
factional struggle to setde serious differences over pro- 
gram and policy was brand new to us.... 

Jim's speeches gave us our first lesson in the ABCs of 
principled Marxist politics as he fairly but mercilessly dis- 
sected the political position of each group in our bloc. We 
noticed at once that Jim didn't stoop to petty debater's 
points or misrepresent an opponent's position. He stated 
each position fully and fairly and answered them squarely 
in such a way as to obtain the maximum educational value 
for the membership. Oehler, the die-hard sectarian, was 
opposed in principle to turning our attention to the SP 
now or ever. We had seen how disruptive the Oehlerites 
were at the Pittsburgh Active Workers Conference in 
March. Their arguments were completely sterile and unre- 
alistic. Muste was opposed on the grounds that we should 
be exerting all our efforts to recruit to the WP, a policy that 
could lead us into stagnation and decay. Abern, the peren- 
nial cliquist who substituted personal relations for party 
discipline, had no interest in political questions, only used 
them to serve his organizational ends. 

Jim's critical analysis was a revelation. For the first time 
it became apparent to us that each member of our bloc 
had different principles and motives for joining the bloc. 
Jim put the right name on it — an unprincipled bloc. He 


stressed that rigid ultra-leftism and organizational fetish- 
ism could seriously restrict the party's freedom to make 
the tactical moves necessary to consolidate all potentially 
revolutionary militants on a Marxist program, and build 
a workers' combat party. We could easily understand this 
last point because we were leading mass organizations and 
were going through similar experiences in the field; in 
fact, this point illuminated the very essence of the differ- 
ent positions at the plenum. 55 
Shachtman's document expresses the political clarity 
that was won in the course of battle under Cannons 

The practice in the CLA and WPUS of maintaining 
"discipline" of higher party bodies against the member- 
ship — forbidding members of these bodies to report dis- 
putes within leading committees to the membership as 
a whole for debate — has nothing in common with the 
Leninist conception of party leadership. While it is gen- 
erally advisable to debate questions in the leading bod- 
ies first to gain as much clarity as possible for further 
party discussion, it is the right and duty of a Leninist 
party leader to attempt to mobilize the membership 
behind his position and, in the case of matters of prin- 
ciple or programmatic questions, to build a faction. In 
fact, "committee discipline" was honored only in the 
breach in the WPUS. 

After four months of internal discussion, the bloc 
between Muste and Oehler was shattered. At the Octo- 
ber 1935 Plenum, the Oehlerites' position was rejected 
and they were given stern warnings to cease any further 
violations of party discipline. They ignored these and 
shordy after were expelled from the party. 56 This meant 
that the WPUS was ready to move quickly to take 
advantage of the situation when the rightist Old Guard 
finally split from the SP in December 1935 to found 
the Social Democratic Federation. At the March 1936 
WPUS convention held the month after "Marxist Poli- 
tics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" was published, 
the Cannon-Shachtman leadership finally obtained a 
decisive mandate in favor of the policy of the French 
turn as applied to the Socialist Party in the U.S. 

The entry into the SP is outside the scope of this bul- 
letin. We note that in the course of their year-and-a-half 

entry, the American Trotskyists more than doubled their 
membership. When the Socialist Workers Party was 
founded in January 1938, it had some 1,500 members. 
The new party had acquired the majority of the SP youth 
and valuable accretions of trade unionists in the maritime 
industry. Cannon later noted with some satisfaction that 
the entry dealt a death blow to the SP: 

Since then the SP has progressively disintegrated until 
it has virtually lost any semblance of influence in any 
party of the labor movement.... Comrade Trotsky 
remarked about that later, when we were talking with 
him about the total result of our entry into the Socialist 
Party and the pitiful state of the organization afterward. 
He said that alone would have justified the entry into the 
organization even if we hadn't gained a single member. 57 

Shachtman on His Way to Renegacy 

When Shachtman rejoined the Abern cliquists in 
1939-40, his authorship of "Marxist Politics or Unprin- 
cipled Combinationism?" caused him no small embar- 
rassment. In response to repeated taunts about this 
polemic against Abern's tendency to put organizational 
grievances against Cannon above all questions of pro- 
gram and principle, Shachtman was finally forced to 

I have no intention of evading the famous "Abern ques- 
tion." I have had in the past many sharp disputes with the 
old Webet-Abern group in general, and with Comrade 
Abern in particular. Indeed, I once wrote a very harsh and 
bitter polemical document against that gtoup which 
Cannon flatteringly calls a "Marxist classic." If a histori- 
cal study-circle were to be formed tomorrow to consider 
that period in our party history, there is much in that 
document I would repeat, much I would moderate, and 
much I would discard. 58 

Shachtman's later disdain notwithstanding, "Marxist 
Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" stands up 
very well in the harsh light of historical hindsight and 
other available documentation from the period. We 
agree with Cannon: it's a Marxist classic. 

Prometheus Research Library 
August 2000 


1 . Workers Party Internal Bulletin No. 3, Sections 1 and 2 
(February 1936). 

2. James P. Cannon, The History of American Trotskyism 
(New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1944 [Pathfinder Press, 
1972]), 169-233. Hereafter referred to as History. 

3. Reprinted from the original mimeographed version in 
the collection of the Prometheus Research Library. The 
resolution was also published in James P. Cannon Writ- 
ings and Speeches: The Communist League of America 
1932-34 (New York: Monad Press, 1985), 374-379. 

4. "Letter Written by Cannon to International Secretariat," 
15 August 1935 and "Letter by Glotzer to International 
Secretariat," 20 November 1935, both from International 
Information Bulletin No. 3, published by the National 
Committee of the Workers Party U.S., 12 February 1936. 

5. Leon Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism (New York: Pioneer 
Publishers, 1942 [Pathfinder Press, 1973]). In January 
1 939, Burnham and Shachtman had co-authored "Intel- 
lectuals in Retreat," an article which was published in the 
SWP's theoretical magazine, New International, which 
they joindy edited. Shachtman here announced that 
Burnham's rejection of dialectical materialism had no 
bearing on his concrete politics. Trotsky called this asser- 
tion "the greatest blow that you, personally, as the editor 
of New International, could have delivered to Marxist the- 
ory" {In Defense of Marxism, 46). 

6. James P. Cannon, "The Struggle for a Proletarian Party," 
1 April 1940, originally appeared in SWP Internal Bulle- 
tin Vol. II, No. 3, April 1 940. It was reprinted along with 
correspondence and other documents of the 1939-40 fac- 
tion fight in The Struggle for a Proletarian Party (New 
York: Pioneer Publishers, 1943 [Pathfinder Press, 1972]). 

7. Cannon, History, 214. 

8. Joseph Hansen, "The Abern Clique," originally mimeo- 
graphed and circulated internally in the SWP, 1940. It 
was reprinted by the SWP in an Education for Socialists 
bulletin, September 1972. 

9. Albert Glotzer, interview with PRL, 2 April 1997. 

10. Sean Matgamna, ed., The Fate of the Russian Revolution: 
Lost Texts of Critical Marxism, Volume 1 (London: Phoe- 
nix Press, 1998). For a critique of Shachtman's theory of 
bureaucratic collectivism see "The Bankruptcy of 'New 
Class' Theories; Tony Cliff and Max Shachtman: Pro- 
Imperialist Accomplices of Counterrevolution," Spartacist 
(English-language edition) No. 55, Autumn 1999. 

1 1 . Peter Drucker, Max Shachtman and His Left: A Socialist's 
Odyssey Through the "American Century' (Atlantic High- 
lands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1994). Drucker does not 
mention the fight against Oehler either. 

12. George Breitman, Paul Le Blanc and Alan Wald, Trot- 
skyism in the United States: Historical Essays and Reconsider- 
ations (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1996). 
Breitman's essay was published posthumously. 

13. The Workers Party was the name adopted by the Amer- 
ican Communist movement when it moved to unify and 

legalize its status in December 1921. The name was 
modified to Workers (Communist) Party in 1925 and 
finally changed to Communist Party in 1929. The 
Workers Party of the 1 920s is not to be confused with 
either the Workers Party of the U.S. of 1934-36 or 
the revisionist Shachtmanite organization of the 1940s. 
To avoid confusion, we will refer to the Workers Party of 
1921-29 as the Communist Party (CP). 

14. The work is today better known under the tide The 
Third International After Lenin (New York: Pioneer Pub- 
lishers, 1936 [Pathfinder Press, 1970]). 

15. James P. Cannon, 3 January 1929, introduction to The 
Draft Program of the Communist International, published 
as a Militant pamphlet. Unfortunately, Cannons intro- 
duction does not appear in James P. Cannon Writings and 
Speeches: The Left Opposition in the U.S. 1928-31 (New 
York: Monad Press, 1981). It wastincluded as an appen- 
dix to the 1936 edition of The Third International After 
Lenin, though it is not listed in the table of contents. The 
1929 pamphlet contained the first and third sections of 
Trotsky's critique of the Sixth Congress program, the por- 
tions of the document which Cannon obtained when he 
attended the Congress in 1928. The second section, 
"Strategy and Tactics in the Imperialist Epoch," was pub- 
lished in 1930 as a pamphlet under the title The Strategy 
of the World Revolution. 

16. For the record of the Cannon faction in the early Com- 
munist Party see James P. Cannon and the Early Years of 
American Communism: Selected Writings and Speeches 
1920-1928 (New York: Prometheus Research Library, 

17. Cannon, History, 80-100. 

18. James P. Cannon, unpublished interview with Harry 
Ring, 13 February 1974, 16. 

19. In "Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism?" 
Shachtman, evidently misreading the dates on some per- 
sonal correspondence, wrongly dated Trotsky's interven- 
tion as Spring 1 934. All the letters he quotes were writ- 
ten in 1933, and we have corrected the dates here. 

The PRL has collected copies of the available docu- 
mentation of the fight, including Internal Bulletins, 
mimeographed documents, personal correspondence 
and minutes. Cannon's major writings on the subject 
appear in James P. Cannon Writings and Speeches: The 
Communist League of America 1932-34, op. cit. Trotsky's 
letters are published for the most part in Writings of 
Leon Trotsky, Supplement 1929-33 (New York: Pathfinder 
Press, 1979). 

20. Trotsky's major articles concerning Germany in the early 
1930s appear in The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany 
(New York: Pathfinder Press, 1971). Many of the articles 
in this collection were serialized in the CIA's paper, the 
Militant, in 1 93 1 -33. In addition, the CLA published sev- 
eral as separate pamphlets: "The Turn in the Communist 
International and the German Situation" (1930), "Ger- 
many — The Key to the International Situation" (1931) 
and "The Only Road for Germany" (1932). 



21. Leon Trotsky, "It Is Impossible to Remain in the 
Same 'International' with Stalin, Manuilsky, Lozovsky 
and Company," 20 July 1933, Writings of Leon Trotsky 
1933-34 (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972), 17-24 and 
"For New Communist Parties and the New Interna- 
tional," 27 July 1933, ibid., 26-27. 

22. Leon Trotsky, "The Declaration of Four; On the Neces- 
sity and Principles of a New International," 26 August 

1933, ibid., 49-52. 

23. Cannon, History, 126-135. 

24. B. J. Field, A. Caldis, J. Carr, D. Levet, A Russell, P. Myers, 
E. Field, "The Lessons of the New York Hotel Strike," n.d. 
[March 1934]. In the collection of the PRL. 

25. Quoted in "An Open Letter to the American Workers 
Party," Militant, 27 January 1934. 

26. Morris Lewit, interview with PRL, 21 April 1993. 

27. Cannon, History, 171. 

28. Hugo Oehler, letter to John Edwards, 5 March 1934, 
published in International News, Special Number 039, 
n.d., published by the Left Wing Group in the Workers 
Party U.S.A., from the Revolutionary Workers Collec- 
tion, Tamiment Institute Library, New York University. 

29. Hugo Oehler, interview with PRL, 7 June 1977. 

30. James P. Cannon, unpublished interview with Harry 
Ring, 8 March 1974. 

31. Cannon, History, 221. Cannon notes that the idea of 
speeding up the fusion negotiations was hatched while 
he was in Minneapolis. 

32. Leon Trotsky, "France Is Now the Key to the Situation: 
A Call for Action and Regroupment After the French 
and Austrian Events," March 1934, Writings of Leon 
Trotsky 1933-34, op. cit., 240-241. 

33. Leon Trotsky, "The League Faced with a Turn," June 

1934, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1934-35 (New York: Path- 
finder Press, 1971), 33-36. 

34. Leon Trotsky, "The League Faced with a Decisive Turn," 
June 1934, ibid., 43-44. 

35. Leon Trotsky, "The League Faced with a Turn," op. cit., 

36. "Statement by National Committee," CLA Internal Bul- 
letin, No. 17, October 1934, 24. Oehler opposed the 
entire resolution, and Abern, Glotzer and Spector 
opposed the section on "organic unity." Weber was not a 
member of the CLA National Committee. 

37. James P. Cannon, "Oehler's Theory of Pressure," speech 
notes, 1934, James P. Cannon and Rose Karsner Papers 
1919-1974, Archives Division, State Historical Society 
of Wisconsin (hereafter referred to as the Cannon 
Papers) Box 28, Folder 4. 

38. James P. Cannon, "Where Does Oehler's Position 
Lead?", Cannon Papers, Box 28, Folder 4. 

39. Partial draft minutes of the Third National Convention 
of the CLA confirm Shachtman's account. These typed 
minutes with handwritten annotations are in the collec- 
tion of the PRL. 

40. James P. Cannon, notes for speech at CLA convention, 
Cannon Papers, Box 28, Folder 4. 

41. Declaration of Principles and Constitution of the Workers 
Party of the U.S., Workers Party pamphlet, n.d. [1935]. 

42. Leon Trotsky, letter to Glotzer and Weber, 2 March 1 935, 
Albert Glotzer Papers in the Archives of the Hoover Insti- 
tution of War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford Univer- 
sity, Box 3. Translation from the German by the PRL. 

43. Leon Trotsky, "The Comintern's Liquidation Congress," 
23 August 1935, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1935-36 (New 
York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), 84-94. 

44. John West [James Burnham], "The Question of Organic 
Unity," New International, February 1 936, 2 1 . 

45. See especially: Joseph Seymour, "On the Collapse of Sta- 
linist Rule in East Europe," and Albert St. John, "For 
Marxist Clarity and a Forward Perspective," Spartacist 
(English-language edition), No. 45-46, Winter 1990-91 
and How the Soviet Workers State Was Strangled, Sparta- 
cist Pamphlet, August 1993. 

46. Minutes of CLA National Committee, 29 May 1934. 

47. Minutes of CLA National Committee, 25 June 1934. 

48. From "Excerpts from J. Cannon's letter to Muste," 22 
May 1935, Exile Papers of Lev Trotskii, the Houghton 
Library, Harvard University (hereafter referred to as the 
Trotsky Exile Papers), 13906. 

49. Cannon, Shachtman, Swabeck, "Report to the Interna- 
tional Secretariat," undated but from internal evidence 
written in late June or early July 1935, Trotsky Exile 
Papers, 15907. 

50. Cannon, History, 201. 

51. The Dutch OSP, which signed "The Declaration of 
Four," merged with Sneevliet's RSAP in 1935. The other 
signatory, the German S.A.P., had since moved to the 
right, dropping the demand for a new international 

52. Cannon, History, 210. 

53. Leon Trotsky, "Open Letter for the Fourth International; 
To All Revolutionary Working Class Organizations and 
Groups," Spring 1935, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1935-36, 
op. cit., 19-28. 

54. Minutes of the June WPUS National Committee Ple- 
num, as well as of the subsequent October Plenum, were 
approved and mimeographed. Copies exist in the PRL. 

55. Ted Grant essay in James P. Cannon As We Knew Him 
(New York: Pathfinder Press, 1976), 93-98. 

56. A few later rejoined the Trotskyists; see Max Shachtman, 
"Footnote for Historians," New International, December 
1938, 377-379. 

57. Cannon, History, 252. 

58. Max Shachtman, "The Crisis in the American Party; An 
Open Letter in Reply to Comrade Leon Trotsky," Social- 
ist Workers Party Internal Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 7, Janu- 
ary 1940, 18. 

\\\\\\ III 

ir L^^^^USTBBl 


t abls of coirrgrrs 

(internal Problocs of the Workers Frxty) 


— Page 1 

Two Lines in the Fusion 

The "Preach" Turn and Organic Unity 

Blocs and' Blocs: Meat Happened at 
the CLA Convention 

The Workers Party Op to the June 

(Continued in Bulletin 3, Section 2) 




NO 3 

FEB, 0936 





(for members only) 


The Workers Party Up to the June ?len\ra 

The Origin of the Weber Sro\q> 

A Tinal Ncte: 5>.e tuste Group — — — 
Conclusion — 

— Pe^e 34 

— "54 
■ 63 

— "69 

NO. 3 

FEB. 1936 


PR3CE flO$ 

Marxist Politics or Unprincipled 

Internal Problems of the Workers Party 

by Max Shachtman 


The national tour of all the important party branches 
which I completed several weeks ago brought me face to 
face with a number of questions and problems which 
arose in the course of discussion with numerous com- 
rades. These discussions firmly convinced me of the 
urgent necessity of putting before the entire membership 
of the party and the Spartacus Youth League a detailed 
record of what has happened in the year of the party's 
existence. The ignorance of the party situation which the 
Oehler and the Abern-Weber groups have vied with each 
other to preserve in the party's ranks, and the systematic 
confusion and direct falsifications which they have, each 
in its own way, disseminated from coast to coast, demand 
that such a record be set down in writing for the infor- 
mation of the membership. The present document, how- 
ever, pursues no mere informational ends; it is not 
intended to substitute for a history, properly speaking, of 
our movement. It does aim to extract from the record of 
the party's history some of the essential and highly illu- 
minating political lessons which our present situation 
dictates must be drawn if we are to progress along revo- 
lutionary lines. 

To draw together what seems to be loose ends; to place 
men and things in their proper place so that an otherwise 
incomprehensible jumble begins to take on the appear- 
ance of a coherent and significant picture; to draw up 
a balance sheet of ideas, proposals, events, progress, 
retreats, at every stage of the development of the move- 
ment; to compare what was predicted with what finally 
took place, what was adopted with what results it 
yielded, what was proposed with what the situation 
showed was required; to trace a complicated situation 
back to its causes; to test and check men and groups and 
ideas on the touchstone of practice — these are elemen- 
tary obligations of every revolutionist. But these obliga- 
tions cannot be properly discharged without a simple 
working knowledge of the facts. Lies, rumor and gossip 
are as misleading a factor in casting up a political balance 
sheet as forged checks would be in casting up a bank 
balance. And what a mass of political forged checks are 
afloat in our party! One has only to go through the coun- 
try and discuss our political problems with an average 
group of comrades to be overwhelmed by the realization 
that a prerequisite for the further progress of our move- 
ment is the clear establishment of those facts of party 

history which are necessary for that balance sheet, that 
accounting, that report of stewardship which the mem- 
bership has the right and duty to demand of the leaders 
at the coming national convention. 

"A revolutionary organization," wrote Trotsky on 
February 17, 1931 , in his comments on the crisis in the 
German Left Opposition, "selects and educates men 
not for corridor intrigues but for great battles. This puts 
very severe obligations upon the cadres, above all on the 
'leaders' or those who lay claim to the role of leaders. 
The moments of crisis in every organization, however 
painful they may be, have this positive significance, that 
they reveal the true political physiognomy of men: what 
is hidden in the soul of each of them, in the name of 
what he is fighting, if he is capable of resistance, etc." 

Our party is at present in a crisis. It can emerge from 
it healthier and stronger than ever only if the nature and 
cause of the crisis is understood. The politically primi- 
tive mind, shallow or entirely empty, or the philistine 
dilettante who dabbles in revolutionary politics on Mon- 
day and retires with a discouraged sigh on Tuesday, can 
see only the fact that "the leaders are squabbling again." 
Truax, for example, a former member of our National 
Committee, who represents the first type referred to, 
resigns from the party because, he writes, there is "too 
much factionalism" in it. In the big political disputes agi- 
tating the party, all he can see is "factionalism." 

This document is not addressed to dilettantes, dab- 
blers and blatherskites. It is meant for the serious revo- 
lutionists in the party, both "advanced" and "back- 
ward." It is meant above all to address the militant, 
knowledge-hungry youth of our movement. In a sense 
it is dedicated to them. In the strictest meaning of the 
word, they are the hope of tomorrow. The devastation 
of the Stalinist and social-democratic parties has virtu- 
ally wiped out the bulk of the war and post-war gen- 
eration. Just as the communist movement was built, 
between 1914 and 1919, primarily on the young gen- 
eration, so the movement for the Fourth International 
must draw most of its troops from the young genera- 
tion of today, those not yet corrupted by the virus of 
political decay. 

But precisely because of that, the youth must be 
trained in the spirit of revolutionary Marxism, of prin- 
cipled politics. Through its bloodstream must run a 
powerful resistance to the poison of clique politics, of 



subjectivism, of personal combinationism, of intrigue, 
of gossip. It must learn to cut through all superficialities 
and reach down to the essence of every problem. It 
must learn to think politically, to be guided exclusively 
by political considerations, to argue out problems with 
themselves and with others on the basis of principles 
and to act always from motives of principle. And in 
order to think and act correcdy, the youth (the adults as 
well!) must always have the facts before them; and if 
they do not have them, they must demand them. 

This document, therefore, pursues a purely political 
aim. If the reader grows impatient at this or that point 
with the multitude of details, he will have to bear in 
mind that we desire to present all the facts that have a 
bearing on those questions in dispute which have engen- 
dered our present party crisis. We are loath to leave any- 
one a reasonable basis for arguing that we have neglected 
to reply to one or another point or to throw light on 
one or another dark corner. We are experiencing, in our 
opinion, a crisis of growth. We are experiencing what 
Zinoviev once pithily described as the "birth pangs of a 
communist party." In the field of obstetrics as well as in 
the field of politics, these birth pangs can be moderated, 
and finally eliminated entirely, not by an amateurish 
approach, not by a futile wringing of hands and whin- 
ing and whimpering, not by prayer, but by increasing our 
fund of knowledge. 

In the present case, this document aims to contrast 
two main lines of thought and action: the line of revo- 
lutionary Marxian politics — principled politics, which 
make possible a consistent, firm and progressive course; 
and on the other side, personal combinationism, 
cliquism and unprincipled politics, which can produce 
only an inconsistent, weak-kneed and essentially reac- 
tionary course. The first is the line for which our group 
has fought, first in the Communist League of America 
and for the past year in the Workers Party of the U.S. 
The second is the contribution made by the Abern- 
Weber group. 

The contrast can be made only by presenting the 
two lines, by describing them, by recording what each 
of them looked like in theory and practice at each stage 
of our development, by checking them with the results 
they yielded. In order that the contrast may be scrupu- 
lously exact, we have preferred to present not merely 
our opinions, but indisputable factual material: min- 
utes, convention records, theses, resolutions, motions, 
statements, letters, etc. Without them, no objective 
judgment of the party situation is possible. The work of 
our coming convention, which has the task of making 
just such a judgment, will, we hope, be facilitated by 
this compilation. 

Max Shachtman 

New York, January 20, 1936 

Two Lines in the Fusion 

The Workers Party has its roots in the two groups that 
came together to found it in December 1934, the Com- 
munist League of America and the American Workers 
Party. If we deal, at least at the outset, primarily with the 
former, it is not out of narrow patriotism for the organ- 
ization to which many of us once belonged, but for these 
reasons: firsdy, because an account of what occurred 
within the CLA, especially in the last year of its existence, 
is indispensable to an understanding and illustration of 
the political course of our group; and secondly, because 
the internal struggle of the same period in the CLA is, 
in any case, reproduced on a more extensive scale in the 
WP today. 

The CLA was built up in the course of a protracted 
struggle for the principles of revolutionary Marxism. 
Occurring as it did in the face not only of the most vio- 
lent opposition of the powerfully organized Stalinist 
apparatus, but of a series of discouraging defeats of the 
proletariat on a world scale, and in a period of social and 
political reaction, this struggle necessarily limited the 
scope of the League's expansion and influence. Under- 
standing the nature of this struggle, the leadership of the 

League set itself firmly against any illusions of an early 
"mass influence." The main work of the League was con- 
ceived to be of a propagandistic nature: the presentation 
and development of the ideas of the International Left 
Opposition, and the formation of a solid cadre of revo- 
lutionists capable of defending these ideas. 

In this respect the CLA was far from unique in the 
history of the movement. It was merely passing through 
the first of what may, roughly speaking, be called the 
three stages of the evolution of the revolutionary organ- 
ization: a propaganda group which concentrates on 
hardening the initial cadres on the basis of clearly 
defined principles; then a more active group in the pro- 
cess of transition to a mass movement, which concen- 
trates on presenting its formerly elaborated principles 
to the masses in the form of agitational, day-to-day slo- 
gans, but which is not yet strong enough to step very far 
beyond the boundaries of literary and oral agitation; 
finally, the larger movement, which not only calls itself 
a party but which can discharge the responsibilities 
incumbent upon an organization claiming to defend 
the daily as well as the historical interests of the prole- 
tariat, which can actually set masses into motion — in 
other words, a party of action. 


The objectively unwarranted attempt by numerous 
wiseacres who refused to understand this process of 
evolution, and who pursued "the masses" without "wast- 
ing time" on forging the instrument — cadres — without 
which systematic revolutionary work in the class strug- 
gle is inconceivable, always ended either in opportunism 
or adventurism. The chief protagonists of such attempts 
in this country, Weisbord and Field, ended up, as is 
known, without "mass work" and without cadres. These 
furious critics of our "sectarianism" finished with the 
most miserable and sterile of all sects. 

The position of the CLA was complicated, more- 
over, by its position as a faction of the Third Interna- 
tional, operating outside of it. Like its propagandistic 
position in general, this was not a matter of choice, but 
a condition dictated by a series of objective circum- 
stances, primary among which was the fact that the 
Comintern had not yet exhausted its possibilities as a 
revolutionary Marxian organization, and that it was 
impossible to establish, a priori, whether or not it could 
be brought back to the road of proletarian internation- 
alism by a combination of our work and the pressure of 
events themselves. 

With the accession to power of the Hitlerites, and the 
unanimous endorsement by the Comintern sections of 
the treacherous capitulation of the Stalinists in Germany, 
the International Left Opposition voted to cut loose 
from the Third International. The slogan was issued: 
Build the Fourth International! Build new communist 
parties in every country! This decision could not but have 
profound effects on every section of the Left Opposition 
movement, and, in turn, upon the revolutionary move- 
ment in general. 

In every country, at least in the important ones, the 
sections of the ILO (International Left Opposition) 
were confronted with the imperative need of making a 
decisive turn. The role of a faction of the Third Inter- 
national had to be given up, and the road taken towards 
an independent movement for new parties and a new 
International. A tremendous historical task by its very 
nature, it could neither be decreed nor accomplished 
overnight. Everywhere, the ILO entered a transitional 
stage, between a propagandist group (a faction) and an 
independent mass organization (a party). This stage was 
represented by the interval between proclaiming the 
need of a new International and new parties and their 
actual establishment. It was not enough to proclaim the 
need of the new party, nor even to recognize the gap 
referred to. The essence of the problem was: how, in 
each country, to bridge this gap in the briefest possible 
time allowed by the concrete conditions prevailing in 
the land and the relationship of forces in the working 
class and revolutionary movements. 

That is to say, the general acknowledgment of the 
need of the new party related essentially to the reasons 
for its formation; it was not yet sufficient as the instru- 
ment for forming it. The instrument was (and is) the 
strategy and tactics that must be applied in each specific 
country in order to arrive in the swiftest and solidest 
manner at the goal. 

In arriving at the strategy and tactics to be employed 
in the United States for attaining our goal, we were for- 
tunate in having at our command the rich treasure trove 
of experience of the revolutionary movement for decades 
back. We invented no new method, because none was 
needed. We did not have to wonder and fumble, because 
we were provided by Marxism (i.e., by the distillation of 
living experience) with the key to our problem. But in 
no case is this key already completely grooved for every 
situation. Revolutionary politicians — like locksmiths — 
must take the broad, blank key which is already gener- 
ally oudined by Marxism and adjust it to the grooves of 
the concrete situation; otherwise the door to the prob- 
lem will not yield to our efforts. 

In addition to wanting to build something, one must 
know how. And in the case of building the revolution- 
ary party, alas! there is no simple, universal, rigid for- 
mula. The First International, for example, was unevenly 
developed and heterogeneously composed. The Commu- 
nist Manifesto was written as the program of the (non- 
existent) International Communist Party, but it was 
compelled to set down different tactical approaches to 
the problem of creating this party in the various coun- 
tries: to revolutionary democrats, militant nationalists, 
trade unionists, social reformists, etc. The Third Inter- 
national, which marked the second attempt to form 
the International Communist Party, came into being 
after the Russian Revolution, which gave it incalculable 
advantages over its predecessor. Yet even its task was no 
easy one, and its development was far from uniform. It 
is sufficient to mention the fact that from October- 
November 1914, when the need for the Third Interna- 
tional was first proclaimed, until the formal founding of 
the International in March 1919, four and a half years 
elapsed. And even then, at the First Congress, the Inter- 
national was little more than a name and an idea outside 
of Russia. 

The parties themselves were built differendy in differ- 
ent countries. In Spain with the revolutionary syndical- 
ists and the young socialists. In Germany by a fusion of 
the tiny Communist Party with the large left wing of the 
Independent Social Democratic Party. In England by a 
merger of four communist groups (plus one socialist 
temperance society). In France and the United States by 
winning the majority of the official Socialist Party. In 
Italy by breaking off a minority of the official Socialist 


Party, and then by fusing this minority with a subse- 
quent communist majority of the same SP. In Norway by 
the direct affiliation to the CI of the federated Labor 
party. In Czechoslovakia by the affiliation en bloc of the 
official social democracy. In China by the direct trans- 
formation of a propagandist group of students and intel- 
lectuals into a proletarian communist party. 

In a word, there was and could be no universal for- 
mula, applicable everywhere and under all conditions. 
More accurately, if there was a universal formula, it was 
this: the small propagandist groups of communists 
must convert themselves into mass communist parties 
by winning to their side the militant workers who are 
moving, however uncertainly and hesitandy at first, in 
the same general direction. 

In the work of building the American section of the 
Fourth International, the leadership of the CLA derived 
its "national" line from the international line. Six years 
of intensive assimilation of the ideas of proletarian inter- 
nationalism as set forth in the programmatic material 
and defended in the struggles of the ILO (now the ICL 
[International Communist League]) had prepared the 
CLA to act automatically in that spirit. The interna- 
tional line was dictated to us by a universal turn from 
propaganda groups or sects to the mass movement, to the 
masses, towards the formation of independent parties 
internationally. In this sense, the turn of the ICL was 
basically an international turn. (Only because it has 
entered into our current jargon shall we speak hence- 
forth of a "French turn" too; in essence it is really a mis- 
nomer, for the tactic employed by the French Bolshevik- 
Leninists was merely an application, in the field of 
concrete French political realities, of the international 
turn from propagandist faction to independent party.) 

Because conditions differ in each country, because the 
relationship of forces is different, the tactical line that 
must be applied to reach the goal of the new Interna- 
tional and new parties must also, of necessity, differ. At 
this point, one can establish the difference between the 
sectarian idealist and the active, Marxian materialist. The 
former proceeds from an idea, rigidly conceived and 
unadjustable to concrete material realities. Wherever the 
latter fail to conform to his preconceived idea, he turns 
his back contemptuously and angrily upon them and 

enters a world of fantasy which corresponds to his idea. 
That is why sectarianism means isolation, unreality. The 
Marxian materialist not only derives his ideas from the 
material and concrete reality, but bases his activities upon 
it, and, taking things as they actually are, plunges into the 
living world in order to shape it into "what it should be." 
If the Marxian philosopher must not only interpret the 
world, but also change it, it is necessary, in order to 
accomplish the latter, to approach it first as it is in real- 
ity, and not as if it was already "what it should be," as if 
it was already changed. 

That is why the Marxists in every section of the 
ICL applied the international turn concretely, i.e., in 
different ways in each country, differing in accordance 
with the realities of the organized social and political 
life of the working class, and yet were able to endorse 
each other's tactics without, by that fact, revealing any 
difference in principle or strategy. In France, the tactic 
used to carry out the international turn carried the 
Bolshevik-Leninists into a section of the Second Inter- 
national. In England, it made them a faction of a cen- 
trist party affiliated with none of the Internationals. 
In Holland, it carried them to a fusion with a leftward- 
moving centrist organization, the OSP [Independent 
Socialist Party] , for the purpose of forming an inde- 
pendent revolutionary Marxian party of the Fourth 
International. In Australia, it carried them to their self- 
transformation into an independent party — as it did in 
Chile and elsewhere. In other countries, the international 
turn did not (nor, given the concrete conditions, could 
it as yet) change the organizational position of the sec- 
tion of the ICL. Widely though the tactics differed in 
each country, the CLA leadership and membership were 
able to support them all, with understanding and enthu- 
siasm, because there was no conflict in the various tac- 
tics pursued so far as intelligent Marxists were concerned. 

In carrying out this international turn from a faction 
to an independent party, the ICL underwent an acute 
crisis.* This crisis has more than a purely "historical" 
significance, because at bottom the problems involved 
are identical with those which underlie the present sit- 
uation in the Workers Party. 

At every turn in world politics, especially when it is an 
abrupt turn, the revolutionary movement experiences a 

* Not the ICL alone, to be sure. The debacle in Germany 
left no section of the labor movement unscathed. If it neces- 
sitated the turn of the ICL which thereupon produced a 
crisis in its ranks, it should not be forgotten that it also 
produced the complete upsetting of the "Third Period" 
philosophy in the Third International and the still far-from- 
ended convulsions in the Second International. The CPLA, 
for example, also felt its effects, for what happened in 

Germany and subsequendy precipitated the movement for 
a new party in the ranks of this semi-trade union, semi- 
political organization and led to the formation of the Amer- 
ican Workers Party in Pittsburgh in December 1933, an 
event of signal progressive importance. In the CPLA (1933- 
34) the effects of the world crisis in the labor movement 
manifested themselves in an almost exclusively progressive 
and healthy manner. 


crisis of greater or lesser acuteness. It may be character- 
ized as the crisis engendered by the need of adaptation 
to the new situation or the new requirements. In this 
period, two currents tend to crystallize in the movement. 
One, represented by the conservative, sectarian element, 
clings to the yesterday, which the new situation has ren- 
dered obsolete. The other, the progressive element, 
brings over into the tomorrow only that part of yester- 
day which fits the new situation. In a small propaganda 
group, a sect (be it in the best or the worst sense of the 
term), the crisis seems to assume particularly acute forms. 
The group is rigidly trained, and this is its great positive 
side because it steels a firm cadre. But inevitably some, 
instead of becoming steeled — that is, firm but flexible — 
become petrified and are unable to bend to the require- 
ments of the new situation. Therein lay the essence of 
the crisis of the ICL, which produced rifts in a number 
of its sections. 

Politics and the class struggle are hard taskmasters. 
They command and we must jump. Else we remain 
marking time, on one spot, and the living movement 
leaves us behind. The group, instead of contributing its 
trained cadres to the living movement, becomes a reac- 
tionary obstacle to proletarian progress. On the whole, 
it may be said that the years of training the cadres pre- 
pared the CLA for the "jump" from a faction to a party. 
But it would be blindness to deny that, in another 
sense, the past of the CLA — its isolation from healthful 
contact with the mass movement — was a heavy heri- 
tage. Its leadership was composed not of "group people" 
but of "party people," founders and builders of the 
Communist Party in this country and even of the revo- 
lutionary movement before it. They did not "choose" 
the group existence; it was forced upon them. They 
could not arbitrarily or artificially break out of the cir- 
cle existence whenever they wanted to (as Weisbord and 
Field tried to do with such fatal results). They had to 
wait for the proper moment and the propitious situa- 
tion. The international turn of the ICL was the indica- 
tion that the moment and the situation had arrived. 

But it cannot be underscored sufficiendy: the whole 
history of the labor movement reveals an iron law oper- 
ating in the evolution of such groups. Under certain 
conditions, they — and they alone — play a consistendy 
progressive role. Under other conditions, they may be 
converted into their opposite and play a reactionary 
role. Under the new conditions of the struggle, the 
CLA leadership (Cannon, Shachtman, Swabeck), in 
harmony with the decisive elements of the ICL, 
declared: If we do not break out of our sectarian, prop- 
agandistic existence, we are doomed! This formula we 
repeated and repeated until it became part of the living 
consciousness of the bulk of the CLA membership and 

thus prepared them for the big step forward that had to 
be taken. 

This indisputable formula encountered, however, not 
a litde resistance. We who had stood firmly by the 
principles and organization of our movement for years, 
resisting successfully every effort to dilute them in an 
opportunistic sense, undisturbed by the superficial crit- 
ics of our intransigent and stubborn adherence to fun- 
damental principle (which they erroneously labelled 
"sectarianism"), were suddenly, but not unexpectedly, 
confronted by comrades who had gotten a rush of organ- 
izational patriotism to the head — at the wrong time, in 
the wrong place, and in the wrong way. What? We are 
doomed, you say? "Cannon and Shachtman have no 
faith in the CLA" — "The CLA is not just a 'nucleus' of 
the new party" — "The CLA is not a swamp or a sect" — 
"They are preparing to liquidate us into some centrist 
morass or other" — and more of the same. 

Yet, our formula remained indisputable. A propa- 
ganda group which, when the situation demands a turn 
to the masses, does not make this turn, and make it res- 
olutely and decisively, is doomed to hopeless sectarian- 
ism and SLPism in various degrees of disintegration. 
Witness Lhuillier in France, Weisbord in the United 
States — to go no further back into the history of the 
revolutionary movements. The idea that under such 
conditions the menace of disintegration can be shouted 
away by patriotic declamations or decreed away by law, 
is infantile. That such infantile ideas actually existed in 
the CLA is attested by the fact that, in the course of the 
negotiations between us and the AWP, a motion was 
introduced into our New York branch "rejecting" the 
"theory (!) that the League must disintegrate if the 
fusion between the two organizations is not consum- 
mated." The adoption of such a resolution, especially if 
it were done by unanimous vote, would undoubtedly 
have been a great help... something like a witch doctor's 
incantations against evil spirits. 

These general considerations determined the line of 
the CLA leadership in carrying out the international 
turn in the United States. We started from the premise 
that the CLA was not the new party, but one of its com- 
ponent parts — not a small or insignificant one, but still 
only a pan. Our problem, essentially, was to find that 
particular link in the chain which, when grasped, could 
pull along as large a part of the chain as conditions per- 
mitted. Our task was to grasp the link closest at hand. 

Our first approach was to the Gidow group, not 
because we were groping about uncertainly, nor yet 
because together we could launch the party. Gidow was 
then closest to our position, and our plan was to estab- 
lish with his group a cohesive principled bloc with 
which to approach other, larger groups. With Gidow, 


we were infinitely more intransigent and curt than sub- 
sequently with the AWP, just because, formally speak- 
ing, Gitlow was closer to our views than the AWP. The 
apparent contradiction is resolved by this considera- 
tion: The Gidow group was composed of a handful of 
members, politically already matured, and not repre- 
senting a movement, both from the standpoint of forces 
and of direction. The negotiations with Gidow failed 
because of his opportunistic position, from which he 
could not be swayed for the essential reason that he did 
not base himself upon any movement that could be 
gotten to exert pressure upon him in our direction. The 
negotiations with the United Workers Party, also 
undertaken by the CLA at about the same time, like- 
wise failed, because of the UWP's ultraleftism. 

Our attitude towards these little groups was not arbi- 
trarily determined, and we did not bring our negotia- 
tions with them to a speedy conclusion out of caprice 
or neglect. Our conduct here, as in the case of our 
totally different conduct towards the AWP, which was, 
programmatically speaking, to the right of these 
groups, was determined entirely by a thought-out polit- 
ical line. As we wrote in the pre-convention thesis of the 
CLA. concerning the difference in attitude: 

As with the Gidow-Field clique, so with Weisbord, any 
more time spent in considering collaboration or unity 
would be so much time wasted, and wasted just when we 
require it most. If we turn our backs completely upon this 
perfidious sect (read also: UWP, etc.) which is "closer" to 
us, and at the same time approach the AWP which is "not 
so close" to us, there is nothing arbitrary in our respective 
attitudes. It merely means that just because we are en- 
gaged in dealing and possibly fusing with a group which 
contains centrist trends, it is necessary for the Bolshevik- 
Leninist group to be firmer, more homogeneous, and to 
resist every effort of disloyal phrasemongerers to disrupt 
our ranks. Any other attitude would not be serious. 

At the same time, by our brief negotiations with these 
groups, by "skirmishing" with them first, we disposed 
of them, that is, we exhausted them as possibilities for 
the new movement. 

It was the development in the Conference for Pro- 
gressive Labor Action (CPLA) which presented the 
CLA with the first serious movement for the new party. 
In December 1933 the CPLA, at its Pittsburgh conven- 
tion, converted itself into the American Workers Party, 
separate and apart from the SP and the CP, and elected 
a Provisional Organizing Committee [POC] to prepare 
a convention for July 4, 1934, at which to launch the 
new party definitely. 

The task of a leadership is to be on the alert for devel- 
opments, to take the initiative, to foresee, to act in time, 
in a word — to lead. Because we had seriously adopted 
the orientation towards a new party, and refused to con- 

sole ourselves with the ridiculous and misplaced patriotic 
cry — "We must have faith in the CLA" — the AWP occu- 
pied our attention from the very first day — and even 
before then! On November 23, 1933, we adopted a 
motion in our Resident Committee which read: "That 
we confer with C. of the CPLA attempting to get him 
to take up the fight definitely for the New International 
at the convention and that we also communicate with 
Allard to the same effect." After the Pittsburgh conven- 
tion, the January minutes of the Resident Committee of 
the CLA read: "Reports by Shachtman and Swabeck: A 
lengthy discussion ensued on the AWP at the end of 
which it was agreed that the emergence of the AWP is to 
be given the most serious attention since it is the strong- 
est single group which has come out for a new party. It 
was further agreed to address an open letter to the AWP 
the purpose of which is to involve them in a discussion 
on the principled foundation for a new revolutionary 
party in America. Cannon, Shachtman and Swabeck 
assigned as a subcommittee to draft this open letter, 
which is to be based upon the general conclusions of this 

The open letter to the AWP, which inaugurated the 
discussions that finally led to the fusion, was not sent on 
the assumption that the AWP was a communist organi- 
zation which stood on the same principles as the CLA 
Our conception was that the AWP represented a centrist 
formation with highly significant left-wing elements in 
it and even more left-wing potentialities. Left "to itself," 
the AWP might develop into a considerable centrist force 
in the United States and seriously impede if not entirely 
prevent, for a period of time, the crystallization of the 
revolutionary Marxian party. And the problem of build- 
ing the revolutionary Marxian party is today, for the 
Workers Party, just as much a problem of preventing the 
growth of a strong centrist party in this country, as it was 
a dual problem two years ago when the CLA first 
approached the AWP. 

We analyzed the AWP not only as it was, but as it was 
becoming, that is, in the process of its development, 
which revealed the great capacities it had for moving to 
the left, along the line of revolutionary Marxism. We did 
not — we had no right to — condemn it because it was a 
centrist organization and not yet a full-fledged commu- 
nist movement. None of us had been born "Trotskyists"; 
all of us had had to go through more than one stage of 
development before reaching the position we then occu- 
pied. It would have been, and it still is, the height of sec- 
tarian insolence on our part to "forbid" anyone else the 
possibility of developing — at a later stage than we — in 
the same direction. Precisely because we had no sectar- 
ian prejudices we conceived it our revolutionary duty 
and task to facilitate the further development to the left 


of the scores of revolutionary militants who had grouped 
themselves around the AWP. 

Our approach to the AWP was therefore calculated 
to facilitate contact with it, to begin to break down not 
only those prejudices which naturally existed between 
the two groups, but also those which were shrewdly cul- 
tivated in the ranks of the AWP by such incorrigible 
right-wingers as Salutsky-Hardman. We counted firmly 
upon the inherent potential strength of those elements 
in the AWP who really wanted a Marxian party, in con- 
trast to the Hardmans who were striving to establish an 
"American" centrist organization. 

In all our dealings with the AWP, therefore, our tac- 
tics contained this highly important ingredient: to crys- 
tallize the left wing, to strengthen its hand, to heighten 
its consciousness and to isolate the right wing. How 
strengthen the left, itself not very mature? By depriving 
the right wing of one after another of its demagogic and 
reactionary arguments, by preventing them from play- 
ing on the prejudices of the backward elements, by 
making it possible — by our own conduct — for the left 
wing in the AWP to continue the fight for unity with 
the CLA. Ultimata, peremptory demands for a "com- 
plete program," intransigent tones and demands would 
have played right into the hands of the right wing. Any 
indication that we were merely interested in a "clever 
maneuver," in chipping off a few left-wing members, of 
not being seriously concerned and determined about 
the fusion, would have amounted to so many gifts to 
the right wing. 

It should be remembered that, ostensibly, this right 
wing was powerful. At the Pittsburgh convention of the 
AWP, Salutsky was the dominant figure, the political key- 
noter and tone-setter. Yet, it was precisely our estimate 
of the AWP as a movement which caused us so little 
apprehension about his significance. We judged him to 
be — and correcdy — an accidental and not an "indige- 
nous" element in the AWP, composed as it was of prole- 
tarian militants who wanted to be revolutionists, and not 
clever Menshevik politicians like Salutsky. We believed 
(and in this we showed far more "faith" in the CLA and 
its forces than all the clamorous pseudo-patriots in our 
own ranks) that, step by step, and not ultimately, at one 
blow, we could bring the decisive forces of the AWP to 
the position of unity with the CLA on a revolutionary 
platform and reduce the right wing to insignificance and 
impotence. But this could only be accomplished by an 
at once firm and flexible policy, above all by a positive 
policy which drove consistently in one direction. 

In one direction? Then you had no alternative vari- 
ant? How many times we heard this "criticism" in the 
CLA from the Oehlerite and Weberite opponents or 
skeptics of the fusion, most of whom were so sure that 

there would never be a fusion that they kept demand- 
ing another variant! But this possibility was also taken 
into consideration by us, for, unlike our opponents, we 
tried to think things out to the end — always a good 
procedure in politics. 

"The AWP is a centrist party, with a centrist pro- 
gram and a centrist leadership," we wrote in our pre- 
convention thesis for the CLA. 

What is important in our approach to it, however, is 
the fact that it is moving in a leftward direction and is the 
only one of the sizable groups to record itself for a new 
party. Our attitude toward the AWP must be based upon 
the dynamics of its evolution and not the statics of its 
program or leadership. It must be based upon the real- 
ization that the steps to the left already taken officially 
by this party must reflect a growing left-wing pressure 
exerted not only by ourselves and by events from the out- 
side, but also by forces within its own ranks or sympa- 
thetic with it. It must especially be based upon the con- 
ception that our task is not only to help in the formation 
of the new communist party but also to prevent or to 
impede the formation of a new centrist parry.... 

If we do not succeed in adopting a jointly satisfactory 
program and the fusion does not take place at the present 
time, our fundamental attitude toward the AWP does not 
change, at least not fot the next period. Should it hold its 
own convention and officially launch its own party, it 
cannot but be a centrist party. Under such circumstances, 
we would continue, still from the outside, and in close 
collaboration with all sympathetic elements within, to put 
forward our demands for fusion on a principled basis, 
always preceding from the standpoint that our object is not 
only the formation of a new communist party but also to 
prevent or hamper the formation of a centrist party. 

It is in the sense indicated in this thesis that there was 
at least one kernel of truth in the famous motion pre- 
sented in the New York branch of the CLA "rejecting the 
theory" that the CLA must disintegrate if there is no 
fusion. If the failure to fuse could be placed at the door 
of the right-wing leaders of the AWP, it would disinte- 
grate, and not the CLA. But if the failure to fuse was due 
to the stupidity or sectarianism of the CLA, not even a 
motion of the NY branch could have prevented it from 
falling apart. We pursued such a policy as made it impos- 
sible for the right-wing opponents of fusion in the AWP 
to pull their organization away from the unity. And the 
results of our policy, in contrast, as we shall presendy see, 
to Oehler's, put the AWP right wing in a position where 
they could not move effectively against the unity. 

No clearer confirmation of the correctness of our 
course is required than the elaborate minutes of the spe- 
cial POC meeting of the AWP held in New York, a few 
short weeks before the fusion convention — November 6, 
1934 — when the right wing made a desperate last- 
minute effort to sabotage the unity. The dilemma into 


which we had put the right wing was expressed by sev- 
eral of the POC members: "Some people have been 
attracted by talk of merger," said Budenz, "and not going 
through with it would be hard to explain away. . . . Those 
who oppose merger must make plain who will preserve 
the AWP and what we'll use for material resources, be- 
cause if we change our minds now we'll seem to oppose 
unity and we'll have a lot of explaining to do." 

Precisely! That is precisely what we meant when we 
wrote in our pre-convention thesis about the eventual- 
ity of no immediate fusion; that alone would suffice to 
answer all the triumphant questions about the "second 
variant." "If merger is called off now," added Karl Lore, 
"we'll be called traitors and fakers, but that doesn't 
bother me. What does bother me is that we'll get the 
horse-laugh. We can stand practically anything but 
being thought damned fools; that's hard to live down." 
Although Lore exaggerates a little here, he is essentially 
correct in revealing the position the AWP would have 
been put in if it decided to face the CLA with the need 
of dealing with the "second variant" so dear to the 
Oehlerites and Weberites. 

By following an elaborated political line, thought 
out to the end and uninfluenced by any accidental or 
episodic phenomena — which threw our CLA critics 
into a panic or a frenzy every other week during the 
course of the negotiations — we succeeded: 

In involving the AWP so thoroughly in discussions 
of the fundamental principled questions that it was 
politically impossible for the right wing to pull the 
AWP out of the negotiations; 

In having the AWP drop the idea of formally launch- 
ing their party, by themselves, at the originally pro- 
posed July 4th convention; 

In helping to crystallize and strengthen the hand of 
the left wing around West, Hook and Ramuglia; 

In driving a deep wedge between the militants in the 
field and the right-wing politicians at the center (Salut- 
sky & Co.); 

In accomplishing a progressive improvement of the 
program, by means of one revision after another — by 
means of public criticism in our press and comradely 
discussion in the negotiations — until the final adoption 
of the Declaration of Principles; 

In involving the AWP to a certain extent in joint 
practical work (anti-war, unions, unemployed, mass 
meetings, joint statements, etc.) so as to establish har- 
monious contact between the ranks and to diminish the 
chances for a rupture of the negotiations; 

In completing the isolation of the right wing and the 
total elimination, in the end, of its most dangerous 
spokesman, Salutsky. 

And finally, in actually consummating the fusion on 
a "rigidly principled basis," as Trotsky puts it. 

The policy was not carried out by the CLA leadership 
without opposition — now overt, now covert — in the 
ranks. That iron law of which we spoke above operates 
not only with organizations as a whole, but more specif- 
ically it affects individuals and sections or groups in 
them. At the time the sharp turn becomes imperative to 
the progress of the movement, they find themselves 
unable to accommodate themselves to the new situation. 
They cling to the past, to the comforts — physical as well 
as political — of a circle existence, to ideas and phrases 
learned by rote, important enough in themselves but no 
substitute for the living movement. They translate their 
sterile sectarianism into a strident radicalism, their con- 
servatism into an ultra-revolutionary intransigence, 
their inertia into a suspicion of every step forward as 
"opportunism" and "liquidation." To be sure, nobody 
was opposed to the fusion explicidy. But that was little 
consolation, for even Bismarck knew that the most effec- 
tive way to oppose an idea is to favor it "in principle." 
What is politically important is that tendencies were 
clearly evident in the CLA which objectively opposed the 
fusion. Some manifestations of these tendencies were: 

The League should immediately declare itself the 

"Just look at who is leading the AWP: Salutsky, 
Muste, Budenz!" — the tendency that saw this or that or 
those leaders, but not the ranks. 

"The AWP has no membership anyway; there isn't a 
single AWPer in Chicago" — a complete failure to see 
the significance and importance of the organization, of 
the movement. 

"We can't fuse unless we go into the new party as a 
faction" — the assumption that the new party would be 

"After they agree to our program, we should refuse to 
unite with them until a long period of practical collab- 
oration during which we'll test them." 

And more of the same. 

The most consistent spokesman of all these anti- 
fusion tendencies, the rallying center for them, was the 
Oehler-Stamm faction. At no time did Oehler reveal that 
he had the slightest understanding of the problem 
involved, of the strategy and tactics to be pursued, any 
more than he showed an understanding of the simple, 
clear-cut tactic adopted by our French comrades in enter- 
ing the SP In both Oehler's case and ours, the problem 
in both countries was fundamentally the same; only we 
approached the problem from the standpoint of living 
Marxism and Oehler from the standpoint of ossified 


"The decisive question to determine a Marxian party 
and non-Marxian party or group today," read Oehler's 
motion in our Resident Committee, February 26, 
1934, "revolves around the question of the permanent 
revolution and the theory of socialism in one coun- 
try.... The Left Opposition will not compromise on 
principle to form a new party. We will not enter a party 
that has a non-Marxian program through omissions. 
Compromise on other questions only on the basis of a 
fight for these points first." 

The Oehlerite conception, therefore, was that the new 
party could be formed by a fusion between the CLA 
and AWP only if the latter agreed to the theory of the 
permanent revolution and included it in the program — 
it and a few dozen other things, for "we will not enter a 
party that has a non-Marxian program through omis- 
sions." Sinful opportunists that we are, we had an 
entirely different conception. In the first place, we do not 
believe that a national section of the Fourth International 
can write its own program; that is the work of the Inter- 
national, for our program can only be the world pro- 
gram; a declaration of principles or platform is adequate 
for the time being. Secondly — O sin of sins! — we were 
prepared to fuse with the AWP even if we could get no 
agreement on the declaration of principles, to fuse on the 
basis of a concrete program of action for the next period 
which did not stand in conflict with our principles, and 
to depend upon joint collaboration and discussion dur- 
ing the course of it to bring closer the day when a Marx- 
ian platform or program could be adopted by the united 
party. From the very beginning, therefore, we found our- 
selves in irreconcilable conflict with the Oehler stand- 
point, the adoption of which would have made fusion 
impossible from the start. 

Oehler's attitude towards the famous first draft of 
the declaration of principles drawn up by Shachtman 
and Muste again indicated his purely negative position. 
This draft, inferior though it was from a Marxian 
standpoint to the second (final) draft, was quite suffi- 
cient — assuming an immediate improvement had not 
been possible — for unity. On the fundamental ques- 
tions, it took the correct position. Oehler denounced it 
as centrist "through and through" and rejected it as a 
basis of fusion. Yet, it was precisely this draft which 
made it possible to drive deeper the wedge between 
Muste, who then occupied an intermediate position, 
and the left wing of the AWP on the one side, and the 
Salutsky right wing on the other. By isolating the right 
wing on the basis of the first draft, the hand of the pro- 
fusion and left-wing elements was so strengthened that 
the reinforcement and clarifications of the second draft 
were made possible in the subsequent negotiations. 
Oehler simply did not understand that every successive 

blow at the right wing facilitated the advancement and 
joint adoption of a more thoroughgoing and compre- 
hensive Marxian position. The difference between this 
"radical" and us "opportunists" was that his policy 
would systematically play into the hands of Salutsky. 

Oehler's attitude towards the discussion of organiza- 
tional questions with the AWP again betrayed his fun- 
damentally anti-fusion position. As late as October 22, 
a few short weeks before the fusion convention was 
scheduled to convene, when it was essential to discuss the 
distribution of positions, merger of the press, etc., etc. — 
all those questions without which the very next step on 
the fusion agenda could not be taken — Oehler voted 
in our Resident Committee against dealing in organiza- 
tional questions with the AWP representatives. And on 
the very eve of the fusion convention, November 19, 
1934, Oehler "withholds" his vote on the organizational 
proposals jointly arrived at by the negotiators. It is evi- 
dent that to have attempted to come to a fusion conven- 
tion without common agreement, not only on princi- 
pled, but on organizational questions, would have been 
equivalent to calling off the fusion convention entirely. 

Towards the very end, the convention city took on 
an unusual importance. Our proposal was to hold the 
separate conventions of the AWP and CLA simultane- 
ously, in the same city, and at the adjournment of the 
individual conventions to reconvene in the joint fusion 
assembly. We knew that the AWP's right wing was try- 
ing desperately to stall off the unity at all costs and by 
any means. The old CLA decision in favor of Chicago 
as the convention city was out of the question for two 
reasons, one practical (the Chicago organization could 
not house anything like all the delegates) and the other 
political (the AWP would not consider Chicago as the 
convention city, and that for legitimate and convincing 
reasons). In spite of the obvious wisdom in our propo- 
sal, Oehler insisted on Chicago. 

Finally, to climax a course that would mean blowing 
up the fusion for the coming period, Oehler proposed 
that we hold our own convention at the same time as 
the AWP held its gathering, but instead of reconvening 
into a unity convention immediately upon adjournment, 
the delegates should be sent home to "discuss" the ques- 
tion of fusion (we had been discussing only for a year!) 
and then come back, a month later, to a unity conven- 
tion! Not only was this an infuriatingly irresponsible 
proposal to sabotage the unity, but it was the direct coun- 
terpart of the AWP right wing's plan for disrupting the 
fusion! Almost at the very moment that Oehler was 
making this scandalous proposal in the CLA committee, 
the right-wingers were mobilizing (fortunately in vain, 
but not through any fault of Oehler's!) at the special 
POC meeting of the AWP on November 6. The crucial 


significance of the Oehler proposal may be judged from 
the minutes of this POC meeting. 

"I would like us to discuss the proposition that talk 
of joint convention be suspended till the AWP conven- 
tion passes on it," said Salutsky-Hardman. "We must 
have separate conventions so that if merger fails to go 
through the reaction will be as slight as possible," said 
Budenz. "I propose that we call off all negotiations for 
the time being to give our members a chance to study 
the matter and prepare for the AWP convention," 
argued another worshipper of democratic formalities 
and opponent of fusion, McKinney, and he added: "I 
think... that the CLA is rushing things. In my opinion 
there's no hurry about this merger, and all negotiations 
towards a unity convention must be suspended." 

Again, Hardman: "Motion to instruct negotiating 
committee to continue to discuss programmatic and 
organizational questions but to postpone the joint con- 
vention till the AWP convention passes on it." The pro- 
posal to postpone the joint convention was being fought 
for in order to stall the fusion, to strengthen the factional 
fences of the right wing, and eventually to defeat the 
fusion. As Arnold Johnson put it: "We can talk of post- 
ponement in hope of defeating merger, or of merging 
later on. I believe we are too far committed to withdraw. 
The AWP is only provisional and we have no right to 
insist that others join us. The time to vote No was at 
Valencia. I understood the Valencia decision to mean 
that we merge as soon as possible." 

As can be seen, the question was not at all of a tech- 
nical order, but of signal political significance. The 
Oehler line, at every stage, would have played right into 
Salutsky's hand. Nor is this astonishing. It would not 
be the first time that sectarian rigidity feeds right-wing 
opportunism and is fed by it. The revolutionary Marx- 
ian line cuts across them both. The spokesman for this 
line summed up the Oehler position in the Resolution 
of the Nineteen (Shachtman, Cannon, Swabeck, Lewit, 
Borkeson, Carter, Wright, etc., etc.) to the New York 
membership meeting to elect delegates to the CLA 

In the United States, the policy of the Oehler group 
would have made it impossible for the League even to 
approach the AWP and to influence its evolution in a 
progressive sense; at best it would have reduced the whole 
problem to the level of a mere maneuver, barren of any 
serious political results, and would have totally excluded 
the possibility of bringing the AWP and the CLA to the 
present point of agreement on a Declaration of Principles 
and the holding of a fusion convention. The adoption of 
the Oehler policy, even at this late date, would directly 
jeopardize the completion of the fusion. By its formalisti- 
cally rigid and negative approach to the problem, the 
Oehler group would deprive the CLA of that combina- 

tion of firmness and flexibility which is necessary to the 
final adjustment of the extremely difficult organizational 
arrangements still pending. The manifest aim of the 
Oehler group to maintain a permanent faction and to 
carry its struggle against the National Committee and the 
International Secretariat into the new party carries with it 
a direct threat to the success of the new party and to its 
normal evolution towards a firm Bolshevik position. The 
emphatic rejection of the position of the Oehler group by 
our national convention is a prerequisite for the success- 
ful development of the new party and the increasing 
influence of the Bolshevik- Leninist kernel within it. 

But that is precisely what the national convention of 
the CLA failed to do in the explicit, clear-cut Bolshevik 
way that the situation demanded of it. And it failed to 
do it because the resolution of Cannon and Shachtman 
was voted down by a combination of Oehlerite and 
Weberite delegates, so that Oehler was able to enter the 
new party without the CLA convention characterizing 
his political line on the fusion. And as will be seen, this 
was not the last time the Weberites played their role of 
shields for Oehler. 

What was the Weberite position towards the whole 
fusion movement? Contrary to all the expectations of 
the critics, the unity negotiations were so patendy suc- 
cessful and our line so unassailable, that even though 
Weber refused to characterize the political fine and ten- 
dency of his ally Oehler, he was nevertheless compelled 
to present a motion endorsing the "main line of the 
National Committee in the course of the negotiations 
as basically correct and making possible the realization 
of the fusion." All the skeptics, the opponents of all 
varieties and degrees, suddenly became not only warm 
supporters of the fusion but in their tardy enthusiasm 
and zeal soon talked as if they had always been heartily 
in favor of it. 

"We (we!) were always in favor of fusion on a proper 
basis (as we would be with any socialist left wing that 
agrees to a Marxist program)," writes Weber virtuously, 
in his December 29, 1935, letter to the International 
Secretariat of the ICL. "We may add that it was after 
discussion with Comrade Weber and on the latter s sug- 
gestion that Comrade Shachtman introduced the first 
motion into the NC of the CLA to start negotiations 
with Comrade Muste and the AWP. Our (our!) attitude 
towards the fusion was never lukewarm — nor on the 
other hand was it uncritical." 

Not uncritical, to be sure. And the criticism? That is 
also recorded. "We took issue with the Cannon group on 
the question of fusion," said Gould at the New York 
membership discussion meeting on July 27, 1935, in a 
speech circulated throughout the country as a Weber 
caucus document. "We did not stand opposed to the 
fusion, nay we were wholeheartedly for it.... Cannon 


saw no future in the CLA He lost faith in it and felt 
that without a fusion we would perish. Hence he pro- 
ceeded to rush the party (Gould means the CLA — MS) 
into the fusion. His policy was fusion willy-nilly It was 
not the rapidity with which the fusion was effected that 
was here objected to. It was the fact that the membership 
was not properly educated or prepared for the fusion. It 
was a top fusion, typical of the Cannon method." 

For a leader of the group which recendy fused "at the 
top" with the Muste group on the basis of purely "top" 
discussions between 2-3 Weberites and 2-3 Musteites, 
presumably on the French turn, Gould is obviously the 
person chosen by nature and destiny to polemicize 
against "top fusions typical of the Cannon method." But 
let us put aside for a moment this school-boyish objec- 
tion to "top fusion" which reveals such a thorough- 
going ignorance of politics, strategy, tactics, tact and 
plain common sense, to say nothing of a cavalier con- 
tempt for facts. Let us concentrate instead on the other 

According to Weber, "we" were always in favor and 
"our" attitude was never lukewarm. He echoes Glotzer, 
who makes the same assertion in his letter to the I.S. 
And Glotzer merely echoed Gould, according to whom 
"we" were not merely never lukewarm, but were whole- 
heartedly for it. Bear in mind these vehement protesta- 
tions and then compare them with the truth, which is 
not established by the above assertions (it is brutally 
violated by them!) but by facts and documents. 

The trouble with us, do you see, was that we saw no 
future for the CLA, we had lost faith in it and "felt that 
without a fusion we would perish"; so we rushed the 
CLA headlong into the fusion, because we favored it 
"willy-nilly." It is futile to ask for facts to sustain these 
assertions; none will be forthcoming, for the simple rea- 
son that none exist. But Gould's very criticism betrays 
his position. It was merely one side of the coin on 
whose obverse side was imprinted the policy of the 
AWP right wing. 

Gould's arguments against us (made six months after 
the fusion; imagine how much sharper they must have 
been — and were! — six months before the fusion) are 
simply identical with the arguments made by Salutsky, 
Howe, McKinney, Cope and Budenz against the fusion 
with the CLA! Let us refer again to those highly 
instructive minutes of the special meeting of the POC of 
the AWP already referred to. We have already quoted 
from them to show who was opposed to the Cannon- 
Shachtman line when, as Gould puts it, they "proceeded 
to rush the CLA into the fusion," and why they opposed 
us. Now let us quote some more to show that, just as 
Gould (unlike the faithless Cannon) had faith in the 
CLA, there were others who "had faith" in the AWP; 

that just as Gould did not think we would perish if there 
was no fusion, there were similars in the AWP who had 
the same view; that just as Gould merely wanted to pre- 
pare their membership for the fusion.... 

McKinney: I propose that we call off all negotiations 
for the time being to give our members a chance to study 
the matter and prepare for the AWP convention.... 
I don't believe that we must necessarily build our party 
on the merger of groups. I think also that we must not 
ignore the past of the CPLA and that the CLA is rush- 
ing things. In my opinion, there's no hurry about this 
merger, and all negotiations toward a unity convention 
must be suspended.... If we don't merge with the CLA 
I think we'll get their good people anyway. 

Howe: It is often said or implied by certain comrades 
that we are lost unless we fuse; do you agree? 

McKinney: I think we're more likely to lose out if we 
do fuse. Fusion doesn't matter in Pittsburgh. We'd get 
perhaps 8 more members. Why, we can get 8 or 28 with- 
out fusing. 

Cohen: Why don't you?... 

Howe: The AWP is not bankrupt and merger if pro- 
posed as a last resort is based on a false premise. I see no 
sign of revolt in the CLA (Howe had evidendy not heard 
of Gould! — MS) but I see no reason either to merge the 
bankrupts or to merge a healthy AWP with a bankrupt 

Cope: There is a feeling that without the CLA the 
AWP can't exist. That means we started out bankrupt or 
got that way in the past year. I disagree. What strength 
will we gain? What material advantage is there? 

But let us examine even more direct evidence of what 
"we" were always in favor of and how "our" attitude 
looked, not in the hazy post-fusion memories of the 
recendy converted zealots, but in reality. "We" evidendy 
means the leaders of the Weber caucus: Weber, Abern, 
Glotzer. Let us take them one by one. 

On the question which revealed the basic divergence 
between our conception of the fusion and Oehler's, 
manifested in the Oehler motion of February 26 on 
"not entering a party that has a non-Marxian program 
through omissions" (referred to above), the Weberite 
caucus organizer and spokesman in the Resident Com- 
mittee, Abern, declared "that he will reserve his vote for 
a subsequent meeting." Two meetings later, Abern, 
according to the records of March 21, 1934, requested 
that he be "recorded as voting for Oehler's motion in 
minutes No. 210 (that is, the February 26th meeting — 
MS) dealing with position in regard to the negotiations 
with the AWP." The March 21 meeting was the one at 
which Glotzer, just back from Europe with the latest 
dope on what to do and what not to do with centrists, 
made his international report. Abern's vote for Oehler 


was therefore cast after consultation on the question 
with Glotzer. And more specifically what Glotzer's 
views on the fusion were, we shall soon see. 

The key importance of the connection between the 
simultaneous separate conventions and the immediately 
following joint fusion convention, has already been dis- 
cussed. What was Abern's position on this crucial point? 
Let the CLA committee minutes for October 22, 1934, 
supply the answer. Swabeck had just reported the AWP 
proposals for the convention: 

Motion by Shachtman: On the question of the unity 
city we orient on the following basis, the League and the 
AWP hold their conventions simultaneously and in the 
same city and at the adjournment of the regular business 
of the two organizations, the joint fusion convention 
shall thereupon take place. 

Motion by Oehler: The CLA hold its convention in 
Chicago as previously agreed 3 times by the full NEC. 
That if the AWP cannot arrange its convention in the 
same city then we hold the joint convention later in 
another city, suitable to both organizations. That we 
endeavor to have at least a month minimum between the 
conventions, to enable the League delegates to return to 
our own branches following the CLA convention with 
the League convention report for branches to assimilate 
and to enable one or more issues of the Militant to follow 
up our own convention before we dissolve the League. 

Cannon being out of town, the Resident Committee 
voted as follows: Shachtman and Swabeck for the 
formers motion; Abern and Oehler for the latter's 
motion! This alarming deadlock was of course broken by 
Cannon's subsequent vote, much — should Salutsky s eyes 
ever peruse these pages — to the latter's chagrin. But let 
us imagine that in addition to Abern, there had been 
another Weberite on the committee that evening who 
was just as "wholeheartedly" in favor of the fusion. The 
deadlock would have been broken... the other way, 
Oehler's way! Let us imagine that the other Weberite was 
Glotzer. Being among those whose attitude was never 
"lukewarm" on the question, whose line would he have 
supported? Let us read his own words. They are just as 
long as they are wrong. And what is important in them 
is not only that they reveal a line on the fusion just a few 
shades more incorrect than Oehler's, more sterile in their 
pseudo- intransigence, but also a general line of thought 
which has manifested itself since the consummation of 
the fusion on other questions, and is manifesting itself 
at this very writing on the key question now before the 

movement. And here is again an indication that we are 
dealing not with faded reminiscences of the past, but 
with political lines that relate to our present-day prob- 
lems! But back to wholehearted Glotzer of 1934: 

What I told the European comrades and LD [Trotsky] 
was, I found out later, my own opinion and not the opin- 
ion of the National Committee. I told LD that our aim 
in addressing the statement to the Muste party was for 
the purpose of forcing a discussion in this centrist organ- 
ization with the aim of winning the best elements to our 
point of view. I told him further that we regarded Muste, 
and not alone him but the entire leadership of the AWP, 
as a typical centrist leadership, people who will never 
become communists (What power of prediction! What 
penetration! What analysis! — MS).... I don't think that 
anyone raises objections (continued Glotzer in this letter, 
written March 26, 1934 — MS) to negotiations or discus- 
sions. What is objectionable is the perspective of the 
committee, which has already put upon the agenda the 
question of fusion.... I told the committee that the per- 
spective of fusion in the immediate future or at the next 
convention is not correct. That is not the first step. 

The next step after an agreement on fundamentals is a 
protracted period of collaboration in order to determine 
the meaning of the change on the pan of the centrists. If 
after such a period of collaboration it is seen that these peo- 
ple have seriously made a step towards communism and are 
developing in our direction, then, of course, the question 
of fusion can be taken up, but by no means to now discuss 
"practically" how the fusion will be carried through. You 
undoubtedly will understand that Oehler supported the 
remarks I made in the committee meeting. ("Undoubtedly 
understand" is hardly the word! — MS) . . . Why has our NC 
acted in this way? Here is my opinion. Our committee has 
no confidence in the organization.... 

I don't regard the League as a "swamp" whose only hope 
is fusion with the AWP. Anybody who feels that way 
should draw the conclusions of that position or perspec- 
tive and act on the basis of this opinion. The League is no 
swamp. The League is healthy in its ranks, it has vitality, 
it has power, it has every possibility of forging ahead. 
(Follows more patriotic pathos — MS)... The lunge for 
the AWP on the part of the NC must be described polit- 
ically (and actually you know this to be so) as a lack of 
confidence in the organization. That is why Cannon said 
at the NY functionaries' and membership meeting that 
our hope lies in the fusion with the AWP. Do I have to 
add that I do not agree with that? 

I think if you were to complete your national tour* and 
continued to follow the line that you are presenting, you 
may convince half or the majority of the organization 

*Shachtman was then making a national tour for the 
CLA, reporting also to the membership in every branch 
on the facts and perspectives of the fusion, i.e., contrary to 
the absurd falsehood of Gould, he was seeing to it that the 
membership was "properly educated" and "prepared for the 

fusion." Gould's trouble then, like the trouble of all the 
Weberites (with the prominent exception of Satir, who 
understood the line of the NC and agreed with it), was that 
he refused to be educated and prepared in favor of the fusion. 
He was "wholeheartedly" in favor of it... just like Glotzer. 


because the matter more or less is in your hands. That 
is the occasion for my letter. I want to ask you to please 
consider very seriously what I say and change your 
approach on this question. I don't propose that you speak 
against the negotiations because they are absolutely cor- 
rect. What I propose is that you do not prepare the mem- 
bership for a fusion but, quite the contrary, prepare them 
for ensuing conflicts. I think you should tell the member- 
ship that if we do get a fundamental agreement there, the 
next stage is a protracted period of collaboration on prac- 
tical questions in order to prove these people. Only such 
a period of collaboration can determine the question of 
fusion. To assume that the Musteites or Muste himself 
actually accept, believe and will work for our point of 
view or, say, for a communist point of view, is assuming 
entirely too much and is overlooking the fact that these 
people are centrists and not communists. 

One cannot but feel that this is enough for the day to 
prove to the hilt Gould's contention that Cannons crime 
was that he didn't prepare or educate the membership^er 
the fusion, and that therein and only therein lay "our" 
difference with Cannon. Ah, what a fatal day it was for 
some people when the typewriter was invented! If this 
was Glotzer's opinion when he was "not lukewarm" but 
"wholehearted" in his support of fusion, what in god's 
name would it have been if he were lukewarm, or — 
heaven forbid! — if he were downright cold toward it? But 
this was in March, it will be said, and anybody can err. 
In the first place, a revolutionist should not conceal so 
serious an error of judgment; in the second place, he 
should not condemn those who failed to make his error 
but who had, instead, the correct line; and in the third 
place, the error was not fleeting in duration. On July 4, 
1934, Glotzer still writes: "I am inclined however to 
think that even now, after all that has happened, you 
cling falsely to the hope that anything may come out of 
the negotiations. I am more and more convinced that 
there is nothing to be gained from them either in repute 
or in numbers. And I wonder whether you agree with 
Jim who says: We have got to unite with the AWP." 

But couldn't this have been an aberration of an iso- 
lated Weberite, not infused with the same limidess 
enthusiasm for the fusion that made, let us say, Weber 
himself such an ardent and uncontrollable supporter of 
the fusion? The idea is preposterous. Glotzer complained 
at the CIA convention at the end of the year that we had 
not received any information about the fusion from the 
Resident Committee. However that may be (and it does 
not happen to be the case), he did receive plenty of 
"information" and views upon which he based the line 
of his letters, from his caucus colleagues, Weber and 
Abern. He was merely expressing the common opinion 
of the national Weber caucus — defended by Abern and 
Weber in New York, Glotzer in Chicago, Rae Ruskin in 

Los Angeles. What Weber thought of the question — we 
will not allow ourselves to quote from memory his week- 
in-week-out sniping attacks on the National Committee 
line in New York branch meetings — he put down in 
black on white. In his statement in favor of the French 
turn, written, not in March and not in July, but on 
August 20, 1934 (printed in the CIA International 
Bulletin No. 17), he wrote: 

There remains the question of the international effect 
of this movement in France.... It does not follow that we 
must pursue the same tactics now or necessarily orient 
our sections everywhere for the same policy. Yet such a 
merger carried out in France creates a predisposition in 
favor of the same kind of merger. Given the development 
of the same situation — and we see this on the way in 
America too — here, we are prepared to pursue the same 
policy that we urge on our French comrades. 

Was our difference with the Weberites, therefore, over 
the question of our "bureaucratic indifference" towards 
preparing the CLA membership for the fusion, as it is 
put by Gould and other Weberites, who foolishly think 
that nobody will trouble to read what they would like to 
forget? Not in the least! It is characteristic of the Weber- 
ites that after they have taken an "independent" politi- 
cal line, and this line has proved to be wrong a dozen 
times over, they seek to conceal their debacle by insist- 
ing that they were always in political accord with us but 
that they differed with us merely on some organizational 
defect of ours. 

Our line was to drive for the fusion and prepare the 
membership for it; their line was to prepare the mem- 
bership against it. Our perspective, in February, in 
August, in November, was that the next step to be taken 
in forming the revolutionary Marxian party was the 
fusion with the AWP; their perspective, as late as the end 
of August, did not even mention the AWP, but envisaged 
the development of a situation — "we see this on the way 
in America too" — in which the CLA would emulate the 
French Bolshevik- Leninists, that is, enter the American 
Socialist Party. (I say "their perspective" and not merely 
Weber's, because all the Weberites on the NC — Spector, 
Abern, Glotzer and Edwards — voted without reserva- 
tions to endorse the Weber statement.) And yet, since we 
are neither Oehlerites nor Weberites, we did not foam at 
the mouth and break out into a hysterical rash at the "liq- 
uidators" and "opportunists" whose perspective it was to 
"dissolve the independent" organization into the SP. We 
voted against the Weber statement and attempted to 
argue it out objectively. We burned no crosses on the hills 
to call together the paladins of the clan to protect the 
sanctity of our independence from the "Weberite liqui- 
dators." We leave that kind of politics to the old women 
from whom nothing better can be expected. 


One of the favorite accusations made against us by the 
Abern- Weber faction, spread down the corridors and 
along the national grapevine, and repeated constandy 
among themselves between sighs and moans over the 
sad state of the nation, is that we are "tail-endists." More 
will be said on this score later on. Suffice it for the 
moment to remind the reader: During the whole year 
of 1934, when the strategy and tactics of the fusion with 
the AWP were being elaborated in the committee and 
discussed — in New York almost constandy — not one 
single leader of the Weber group made a solitary positive 
proposal on the matter; not one single idea was con- 
tributed by it that would advance the fusion; on not a 
single occasion did any of them take the initiative in the 
great work which, at the convention, they grudgingly 
acknowledged had been accomplished. Nothing, liter- 
ally nothing! 

Where they couldn't give direct support to the 
Oehlerite agitation, they remained silent entirely. Where 
they contributed an idea, it was not towards fusion, 
but like Glotzer, against the fusion, or like Weber, for 
the perspective of entering the SP and letting the 
fusion with the AWP go hang. The initiative at every 
stage, the tactics, the complicated and delicate work of 
negotiation, the work of educating, enlightening and 
rallying the membership, fell exclusively to the lot of 
the bureaucrats, opportunists and men of little or no 
faith, Cannon, Shachtman and Swabeck. And by some 
miracle, compared with which the transformation of 
the wafer and the wine into the body and blood of Christ 
is a commonplace occurrence, the fusion was accom- 
plished on a sound, satisfactory, revolutionary basis — as 
Gould, Glotzer and Weber will eagerly explain to you — 
in spite of everything Cannon and Shachtman could do 
to stop it. 

One important stone is still missing from the mosaic 
of this instructive chapter of the record. In reply to a 
copy of Glotzer s letter of March 26, 1934, to Shacht- 
man, a leading European comrade whose opinions 
Glotzer elicited wrote to him on April 10, 1934: 

There must be revolutionary elements in the AWP who 
are pushing toward us, for otherwise it would be incom- 
prehensible why the leadership has committed itself so far. 
This situation must be utilized. If we declare ourselves 
ready for the fusion and the right wing of the AWP then 
puts on the brakes or prevents it entirely, we then have a 
very favorable point of departure toward the left wing.... 
We must not only understand and criticize centrism theo- 
retically, not only submit it to political tests, but we must 
also maneuver organizationally towards it. Under certain 
conditions, fusion is the best maneuver. Only the fusion 
should not be superstitiously regarded as the termination 
of the process (that is, of the struggle against centrism — 
MS). The fusion can, under certain conditions, only yield 

better conditions for the continuation of the struggle 
against centrism. Naturally, the methods of the struggle 
must then be adapted to the united party. 

It would surely have been regarded as a libel on the 
already harassed Glotzer to have predicted at that time 
that, not much more than a year later, he and his caucus 
colleagues would be first in a bloc and then in a single 
faction with those whom Glotzer himself designated as 
"people who will never become communists" — a faction 
whose primary aim is the smashing of those communists 
with whom Glotzer has always protested his fundamen- 
tal solidarity in principle. But these miserable clique 
maneuvers, the politics of unprincipled combinationism, 
deserve more ample and searching treatment. 

The "French" Turn and Organic Unity 

The minutes of the Third National Convention of the 
CLA, which took place in New York at the end of 1934, 
directly on the eve of the fusion convention which 
launched the Workers Party, are, unfortunately, so tersely 
summarized that, without further elucidation and com- 
mentary, they do not afford the reader the possibility of 
getting a rounded picture of how the internal develop- 
ments culminated in that organization before its disso- 
lution into the new party. On all divisions in the conven- 
tion there were not just two groups casting identical 
ballots, as was to be expected from the two fundamen- 
tally different lines of principle that separated the League, 
but three. It is with this third group, as we shall see, that 
we must occupy ourselves in greater detail, all the more 
so because its origin, its political existence and position 
are more often than not shrouded in obscurity. 

The position of the Oehler faction — formed months 
before the convention on a national scale and steadily 
nursed by an unceasing flow of factional documents — 
was entirely clear, more or less open and avowed, and, 
considering the fact that it proceeded from fundamen- 
tally wrong premises, the element of ambiguity in it was 
reduced pretty much to a minimum. The Oehlerites 
took a flatfooted stand against the so-called French turn 
on the grounds that the entry even of a small group or 
faction (what they called the "embryo party") into a 
reformist or centrist organization, regardless of the 
principled platform upon which it entered or for which 
it fought once inside, was equivalent to capitulation to 
social democracy, the furling of the revolutionary 
Marxian banner, liquidation of the organized Marxian 
movement, and consequently objective aid to the social 

Like Bauer in Germany and Lhuillier in France, they 
opposed the "turn" on grounds of principle. That this 
sectarian view was not accidental or episodic was dem- 
onstrated by the policy they advocated with regard to 


the fusion. The Oehler group, therefore, on the touch- 
stone questions before the CLA — the "international" 
and the "national" — represented a fairly consistent, 
ultraleftist sectarian current. Because it was so flatly and 
openly avowed not only orally but in recorded docu- 
ments, it was possible to deal with this group politically. 
Its position being clearly discernible, one could give it 
political support, or political opposition. 

The position of the CLA leadership (Cannon, Swa- 
beck, Shachtman) — which formed a group in New 
York only one month before the convention and never 
formed a group at all on a national scale — was equally 
well known and (in our opinion) even more consistent. 
Proceeding from conceptions already set forth on pre- 
vious pages of this document, it took just as firm a 
stand for the entry of our French (and later our Belgian) 
comrades into the social democracy, as it did in favor 
of a policy which would make possible the speedy 
fusion with the AWP for the purpose of founding an 
independent Marxian party in the United States. And 
as has already been made clear, these were the two deci- 
sive questions facing the CLA during the last year of 
its existence. 

Yet, while the great majority of the members of the 
League could not but support the basic position of the 
CIA leadership — and did in fact support it — and at 
the same time could not but reject the position of the 
Oehlerites — and did in fact reject it — the leadership 
found itself in the convention with a minority of the 
delegates supporting it. Why? Because in addition to 
the two groups referred to there was present a bloc of 
delegates representing a third group — Abern-Weber. 

Another group? But a group must justify its organi- 
zational existence by a political platform. It is of the 
essence of political irresponsibility to form groups or 
factions on this, that or the other triviality, for such a 
course would inevitably end in the complete disinte- 
gration of the movement into light-minded cliques to 
whom politics is a sport. The "normal" state of the rev- 
olutionary movement is that in which each member 
presents his standpoint freely, and is thus able to influ- 
ence other members and be influenced by them. A rev- 
olutionist does not recoil in moral horror from the 
prospect of forming a faction, even in a revolutionary 
Marxian organization, but only when political differ- 
ences with other comrades, or aggregations of com- 
rades, are so clear as to make the joint presentation of a 
platform or a systematic point of view, and its common, 
disciplined advocacy and defense, unmistakably advis- 
able; or else, when bureaucratic repression in the organ- 
ization so constricts the normal democratic channels of 
expression that a viewpoint can be effectively presented 
and defended only by the concerted action of a group. 

Now, the latter situation did not obtain in the CIA 
and nobody made such a contention. No comrade sub- 
mitted a document on his point of view which was not 
presented to the membership for discussion and decision 
(for example, the Weber and Abern statements on the 
French turn, a statement on the same question by 
Oehler, another by Glee); an internal discussion and 
information bulletin was at the disposal of the member- 
ship; membership discussion meetings of the broadest 
and most democratic kind were provided for throughout 
the country and, in the city where the leadership exer- 
cised the greatest political and organizational influence — 
New York — discussion meetings of the membership were 
held almost week in and week out for a solid year, at 
which all comrades, with all points of view, had the most 
ample conceivable opportunity to debate their positions; 
a nationwide tour was organized in which a National 
Committee member (Shachtman) held membership dis- 
cussion meetings with every single branch in the coun- 
try for the purpose of presenting the NC position and 
discussing contrary positions, etc., etc. What, then, was 
the political basis upon which Abern- Weber-Glotzer 
organized a faction in the CIA? 

It should be borne in mind, furthermore, that factions 
cannot, must not be organized because they agree with 
the basic political line of other factions, but because they 
disagree with those basic lines in so clear-cut a manner 
as to warrant the formation of a new group. 

Now we have already seen that politically the Weber 
faction declared its agreement with Cannon and Shacht- 
man on the policy pursued with regard to the fusion, 
i.e., with one of the two main and decisive questions 
before the League. When our motion to endorse the 
NC policy on the fusion and to reject Oehler's policy was 
defeated because the Weberites dared not offend their 
Oehlerite allies by a political characterization of their 
fusion position, it was nevertheless Weber who intro- 
duced the motion which endorsed "the main line of the 
NC in the course of the negotiations as basically correct 
and making possible the realization of the fusion." To 
add that Weber & Co. had this or that incidental criti- 
cism to make (and what else could it be but incidental?) 
of our conduct during the year in connection with the 
fusion question does not eliminate the decisive political 
fact that he was compelled to endorse our main line, and 
what counts, or what should count with Bolshevik pol- 
iticians, is precisely the main line. 

On the other of the two principal and decisive ques- 
tions before the League, namely, the entry of the French 
comrades into the SFIO, documents and oral statements 
again attested to a political solidarity between the NC 
and the Weberites. Both took an identical position on 
what was decisive in the dispute: they endorsed the entry 


of our French comrades as tactically correct, permissible 
from a principled standpoint, and both rejected the ster- 
ile yawpings of the international Bauerites. 

Where, then, was the political difference of the 
Weberites with us that justified their formation of a 
separate faction? 

If it is understood (and we shall prove it up to the 
hilt!) that the Weber group was not formed to fight for 
the French turn or against it; that it was not formed to 
fight for the fusion or against it; that it was formed in 
the dark of night without a political platform and with- 
out ever, in the two whole years of its existence, having 
drawn up a clear political platform; that its basis of 
existence is that of an unprincipled personal combina- 
tion, of a clique that refuses to live down ancient and 
completely oudived personal and factional animosities; 
that its principal aim is to "smash Cannon" (and Shacht- 
man, because of his association with the latter) without 
at the same time having the political courage to take over 
the responsibilities of leadership — if those things are 
understood, it becomes clear why, even without politi- 
cal differences, the Weberites came to the CLA conven- 
tion with a faction and — O God help us! — with a "plat- 
form" on which to justify their politico-organizational 

And what was this "political platform?" Nothing more 
and nothing less than... "organic unity." A more 
wretched (and at the same time thoroughly false) cloak 
for the organization of an unprincipled clique could 
hardly have been chosen. This document has no inten- 
tion of developing into a treatise on the general question 
of "organic unity," or even on "organic unity" insofar as 
it affected or affects the present situation in France. It 
deals with the question only to the extent required to cast 
some light on an otherwise unclear side of the matters 
under consideration. 

One of the arguments advanced by those favoring 
entry into the SFIO was this: the movement for organic 
unity of the Stalinist and socialist parties has taken on 
serious proportions; the organic unity party can only be 
a reactionary party under the aegis of Stalinist ideology; 
in the process of effecting the organic unity of the two 
parties into one, the question of the program for the new 
party will be advanced; the Bolshevik-Leninists, on the 
outside looking in, will be unable to influence the direc- 
tion which the workers, thinking of the new program, 
will take; as a constituent part of one of the parties (the 
SFIO), the Bolshevik-Leninists will be able to advance 
their revolutionary Marxian position as the program- 
matic base for the new party — not the new party of the 
Stalinist-social democratic "organic unity," but the new 
revolutionary party that will be constituted in the course 
of the regroupment of forces. 

So strong was the "organic unity" wave in France, 
that some of the Bolshevik-Leninists were swept away 
by it. They took an uncritical attitude towards it. In the 
early days of the discussion on the question of entry 
(and even later), some of our comrades took the inad- 
missable position of becoming advocates of the slogan, 
thus making themselves, willy-nilly, the objective assist- 
ants of the dupery planned by the old-line leaders. Some 
(notably Molinier, as per his article in the New Interna- 
tional Tor July 1934) replied to the question — "Organic 
unity?" — with the simple, enthusiastic affirmation: 

Neither the French Ligue nor Comrade Trotsky ever 
advanced such a position, despite the assertion of the 
Oehlerites, who condemned this untaken position, or 
the Weberites, who approved this untaken position. In 
a criticism of some of the youth comrades who also 
picked up this reactionary slogan — the essence of 
which is and cannot but be, both theoretically and con- 
cretely in the minds of the masses, a sloganized affirma- 
tion of the possibility of reformism and Bolshevism 
coexisting in one party — Comrade Trotsky wrote 
[Summer 1934]: 

The aim of this text: to correct the slogan of organic 
unity, which is not our slogan. The formula of organic 
unity — without a program, without concretization — is 
hollow. And as physical nature abhors a vacuum, this for- 
mula fills itself with an increasingly ambiguous and even 
reactionary content. All the leaders of the Socialist Party, 
beginning with Just and Marceau Pivert and ending with 
Frossard, declare themselves partisans of organic unity. 
The most fervent protagonist of this slogan is Lebas, 
whose anti-revolutionary tendencies are well enough 
known. The Communist leaders are manipulating the 
same slogan with increasing willingness. Is it our task to 
help them amuse the workers by an enticing and hollow 

The exchange of open letters of the two leaderships on 
the program of action is the promising beginning of a dis- 
cussion on the aims and the methods of the workers' 
party. It is here that we should intervene vigorously. 
Unity like split are two methods subordinated to program 
and political tasks. The discussion having happily begun, 
we should tactfully destroy the illusory hopes in organic 
unity as a panacea. Our thesis: the unity of the working 
class can be realized only on a revolutionary basis. This 
basis is our own program. 

If fusion takes place tomorrow between the two parties, 
we place ourselves on the basis of the united party in order 
to continue our work. In this case the fusion may have a 
progressive significance. But if we continue to sow the illu- 
sion that organic unity is of value as such — and it is thus 
that the masses understand this slogan and not as a more 
ample and more convenient audience for the Leninist 
agitators — we shall be doing nothing but making it easier 
for the two conjoined bureaucracies to present us, us 


Bolshevik-Leninists, to the masses as the great obstacle on 
the road of organic unity. In these conditions unity might 
well take place on our backs, and become a reactionary fac- 
tor. We must never play with slogans which are not revo- 
lutionary by their own content but which can play a quite 
different role according to the political conjuncture, the 
relationship of forces, etc.... We are not afraid of organic 
unity. We state openly that the fusion may play a progres- 
sive role. But our own role is to point out to the masses the 
conditions under which this role would be genuinely pro- 
gressive. In sum, we do not set ourselves against the cur- 
rent toward organic unity, which the two bureaucracies 
have already cornered. But while supporting ourselves on 
this current, which is honest among the masses, we intro- 
duce into it the critical note, the criterion of demarcation, 
programmatic definitions, etc. 

The position of the majority of the NC of the CLA 
was formulated in the instructions to Cannon who was 
delegated to represent us at the 1934 plenum of the 
International Secretariat of the ICL: oppose the standpoint that "organic unity" as such is 
a "progressive step," and that the Bolshevik-Leninists shall 
become the proponents of such a slogan. That in all con- 
ditions and with all developments that may take place in 
the ranks of the working class or in the bureaucracies of the 
two principal parties, the Bolshevik-Leninists shall under 
all circumstances point out the illusory and reactionary 
character of "organic unity" as such (even under present 
"French conditions") and emphasize instead unity on a rev- 
olutionary program and in a revolutionary party. 

At whom was this sharp formulation directed? Not 
only at some of our French comrades who had made this 
slogan of bureaucratic dupery their own (a year and a half 
later, the logical conclusion of their error was manifested 
in the treachery of Molinier & Co.!) but at the Ameri- 
can Weberites who took, if anything, an even falser posi- 
tion in the belief that... that was LD's position. At the 
CLA convention we were treated to learned and mock- 
ing disquisitions on our (!) conception of "organic unity 
as such" and informed that outside of Kant there was no 
such thing. But it is precisely against a metaphysical, 
uncritical, tail-endist subservience to organic unity "as 
such" that the NC majority was compelled to polemicize. 
Again let us refer to the documents. 

In the statement in favor of the French turn already 
referred to, Weber wrote on August 20, 1934: "It is no 
accident that this in itself would indicate the progres- 
sive character of the move for organic unity." "This in 
itself" referred to the fact that "it is necessary to protect 
the vanguard by enlisting the support of the organiza- 
tions of the working class." And the vanguard whom 
this "progressive organic unity" would protect was the 
French Bolshevik- Leninists and Comrade Trotsky, then 
being hounded by French reaction! Will Abern, 
Glotzer, Spector and Edwards, who voted for Weber's 

statement (it is reproduced in the October 1934 Inter- 
nal Bulletin No. 17 of the CLA) kindly tell us where 
and how this "unaccidental" thing finally "indicated the 
progressive character of the move for organic unity"? 

Further on, Weber wrote: "From our point of view it 
would seem that there is no other choice — that we must 
choose the progressive road of organic unity. ... At pre- 
sent the interests of the French proletariat, of the French 
revolution, make mandatory that we hail the move 
for organic unity and put ourselves at its service" (My 
emphasis — MS) 

That is precisely what we would not consent to do! 
We refused to join in the enthusiastic "hailing" of 
organic unity which was (and is) helping to deafen the 
French proletariat to the call of its class interests. We 
refused to join in putting the Bolsheviks "at the service" 
of this reactionary conspiracy of Blum-Thorez bureauc- 
racy. If they are so inclined, will Weber, Abern, Glotzer, 
Spector, et al. tell us if they still hold to the position 
they voted for in August and September? 

But, it will be said, the Weberites considered the move 
for organic unity progressive only because the Bolshevik- 
Leninists would be inside it fighting for a revolutionary 
Marxian program for this unity. Unfortunately, they do 
not even have this straw to grab hold of. Let us read the 
famous Abern motion, to be found in the same CLA 
Internal Bulletin, which endorsed the Weber exposition 
of the question and proceeded to enlarge upon it: 

Should a merger of organic unity between the Stalinist 
and Socialist Parties of France emerge as a result of the 
development of the present united front, Comrade 
Swabeck's conception (cf. his statement) that it must be 
the deliberate object of the French Left Opposition to 
engineer a split in this merged party in order thereby to 
achieve the new Communist Party of France, in case it 
should gain admittance into the French Socialist Parry as 
a bloc, is wholly false. (Oh scoundrelly Swabeck! — MS) 
He thereby conceives our object in endeavoring to join 
the French SP in the narrowest sense of a maneuver and 
fails to realize properly the gigantic objective factors 
which impel a move in this direction, and further fails to 
realize the revolutionary potentialities for the Left Oppo- 
sition in the event of such an organic unity. ... It must be 
recognized that, despite Stalinism and the SP, the achieve- 
ment of organic unity, after a period of united front 
action between the SP and CP, even if temporarily 
excluding the Bolshevik-Leninists, would be a progressive 
step at this stage, representing the healthy will of the 
masses for revolutionary unity. (My emphasis — MS) 

Do Weber- Abern-Glotzer-Spector, who voted for the 
Abern statement too, still support this standpoint? Do 
they still think that this reactionary conspiracy of the two 
old bureaucracies, this organic unity of social patriot- 
ism, with the Marxists expelled, is a progressive step? 
Do they still think that now, with our youth and party 


comrades expelled by Blum-Cachin, the "organic unity" 
would represent the "healthy will of the masses for rev- 
olutionary unity" (what sticky, liberal sentimentalism!)? 

Do they still agree with the Glotzer amendment 
made in the name of their faction to the Cannon- 
Shachtman resolution on the French situation — made 
as late as December 1934: "The striving of our French 
League to bring about the regroupment of the militant 
workers in both parties as well as those outside these 
parties in a single revolutionary party through the gate- 
way of 'organic unity' is a progressive step in the direc- 
tion of the creation of the French party of the Fourth 

Do the most recent events in France confirm their 
prognoses and proposals, or ours? Do they still "hail" 
organic unity? Do they still put themselves "at its ser- 
vice"? Do they still propose to support as a progressive 
step the idea of forming the new party in France 
"through the gateway of 'organic unity'"? Or is it neces- 
sary, as we declared a year and a half ago, to denounce 
the reactionary conspiracy of "organic unity," as such, 
for what it is and "to emphasize instead unity on a rev- 
olutionary program and in a revolutionary party"? 

jfc 3jC $ 3(C * 

To the extent, therefore, that "organic unity" was an 
"issue" in the CLA, the Weberites were, to put it with 
restraint, hopelessly muddled. But the plain truth of the 
matter is that it never was a real issue in the CLA. It was 
picked up and inflated by the Weberites in order to give 
them a "plank" for their platform of differences with us, 
in order to give them an ostensible basis for a separate 
faction. And conclusive evidence of how little the Weber- 
ites were really interested in the question one way or the 
other is supplied by this fact: At the pre-convention 
membership meeting in New York where resolutions 
were being voted on, Weber offered to withdraw entirely 
from the floor his resolution in favor of "organic unity" 
if we would consent to withdraw from our resolution 
the paragraph on the same subject quoted above in the 
instructions to delegate Cannon! Weber's resolution had 
served its purpose; he had formed his ludicrous "organic 
unity" faction on the basis of it and had gotten a quota 
of delegates from New York in the proportional repre- 
sentation provided for by the NC voting regulations. 

As is the rule with us, we had a position, we argued 
for it, we put it to a vote and we were not prepared to 
dump it down the drain just because Weber, whose 
position had been battered to bits in the discussion, was 
ready to "forget all about it." How serious shall we say 
a politician is who, after fighting for three months in 
defense of a special position which distinguishes him 
from all others in the organization, ends up at the deci- 

sive moment, when positions are to be adopted (i.e., at 
the final voting), with a proposal to let the whole mat- 
ter drop? And to let drop a matter which, in the course 
of the whole year of 1934, constituted the one and only 
point of political difference, anywhere recorded in the 
organization, between the Weberites and ourselves! 

Anywhere recorded in the organization, we repeat. 
For, though the Weberites differed with us in their 
whole conception of the fusion, as we have showed, and 
were wrong on the question, they nevertheless recorded 
themselves finally in endorsement of our "main line." 
Their only recorded political difference with us was on 
"organic unity" and this constituted the ostensible polit- 
ical basis for organizing their faction. What the real 
basis for the faction was, and what led it ever deeper 
into the morass of clique politics and combinationism, 
we shall see presently. For the moment, however, let us 
proceed to the CIA convention itself. 

Blocs and Blocs: What Happened 
at the CLA Convention 

The division at the CIA convention was as follows: 
The Oehlerites had 10 regularly elected delegates, organ- 
ized long before the convention as a tight faction. The 
Weberites, also with a faction of long standing, had 13 
delegates. National Committee supporters amounted 
to 17. Two unaffiliated delegates completed the total of 
42 voting delegates. In their efforts to put us in a minor- 
ity without themselves taking the responsibilities of a 
majority (that would be too much of a burden for peo- 
ple who must travel light!), the Weberites overreached 

The small Davenport branch — which had been 
organized on the twin slogans "Up with organic unity! 
Down with Cannon!" — carved a niche for itself in com- 
munist history by sending a blank credential to be filled 
in by the Weber caucus! When this — shall we say, 
unusual? — procedure was challenged, the caucus leaders 
hastily wired Davenport which prompdy wired back that 
what the blank space was supposed to represent was the 
Weberite, Comrade Ruskin — a not entirely groundless 
supposition. Carried away though they were by their 
position as a majority in combination with the Oehler- 
ites and against us, the Weberites nevertheless bethought 
themselves that this was too raw and they themselves 
withdrew the Davenport credential. The same held true 
of another "delegate," Papcun, a young militant whom 
they rendered virtually useless to the movement by 
systematically poisoning him with their methods and 
practices. Papcun came to the convention with a forged 
credential. When it was exposed by us, the Weberites, 
Papcun included, shamefacedly withdrew his credential 
and declined to contest our challenge of his right to vote. 


The control commission elected to look into Papcun's 
action reported the "decision of the commission that 
Comrade Papcun be censured for credential irregularity." 
For that proposal, too, the Weberites were compelled 
to vote, as did every other delegate to the convention. 
In revenge for our communist action on their two fraud- 
ulent delegates — actions they were compelled to sup- 
port — they joined with the Oehlerites to unseat a dele- 
gate regularly credentialed by the San Francisco branch, 
who had committed the crime, not of forging a creden- 
tial, but of supporting the NC! 

This disgraceful overture to the convention had its 
counterpart at the final session in an episode which, 
while not edifying, throws a glaring, merciless light on 
those unprincipled combinationist practices that have 
characterized the course of the Weber caucus ever since 
that time. 

Not being anarchists, bohemians, sewing circle 
habitues or syndicalists, we lay great store by the ques- 
tion of leadership. Without a leadership, the revolu- 
tionary movement is headless. With a bad leadership, it 
is in just as fatal a position. A revolutionary leadership 
is not created overnight. It is constituted in the course 
of years; it grows and learns and is tested in the course 
of political struggles — on the arena of its own organiza- 
tion and in the broader theater of the class struggle. In 
an even higher sense than the cadre as a whole, the lead- 
ership is the product of a selection made jointly by 
events in general and in particular by those it leads. 
While the Leninist conception provides for the steady 
introduction into the leadership of new and fresh ele- 
ments and the sloughing off of decayed elements from 
the leadership— contrary to the American syndicalist 
who rules that a man can occupy an official position for 
only one term — Lenin stresses the idea of the continu- 
ity of leadership, so that it may become trained and 
experienced in the tremendous and exceedingly diffi- 
cult task of leading the movement of the proletarian 

The Lenin view has nothing but scorn for amateur- 
ish prejudices and "democratic" panderings to "rank 
and file-ism" or for the hypocritical coyness of those 
"reluctant" and "modest" gentry who are eager to be 
coaxed into the responsibilities of leadership. It has 
proper respect for those who insist on the Bolshevik 
idea of leadership, who, having a firm political line, 
fight for this line and for a leadership qualified to exe- 
cute it. The Stalinist practice of "making" a leader over- 
night has nothing in common with Lenin. Neither has 
the Stalinist practice of "unmaking" leaders overnight. 
Although, it should be added, the kind of "leaders" pro- 
duced in that school are, after all, just as easily unmade 
as they are made. 

A party without a firm majority in its leadership, fol- 
lowing a consistent political course, especially in a situ- 
ation where there are clearly two basically different lines 
counterposed to each other in the organization, is a ship 
without sail or rudder, torn and tossed about by every 
wind that strikes it. The same holds true of the highest 
authority of a party — its national convention. It is the 
shortest irresponsibility to hold a convention of the rev- 
olutionary organization at a time when it must decide 
upon basic questions of far-reaching significance and 
when two irreconcilable views on these questions exist 
in the convention, without seeking to establish a firm 
majority for one basic view as against the other. Unless 
this is done, you court the risk of having the questions 
involved settled by chance, by accidental combinations. 

The problem of giving direction to a convention 
does not end, naturally, with the adoption of formal 
resolutions; it ends with the selection of a leadership 
standing on those resolutions and qualified to execute 
them in life. The CLA convention was faced with two 
questions of vital importance, on both of which two 
distinctly different tendencies were manifested. One 
question (the so-called French turn) involved either the 
organizational and political rupture of our League with 
the world movement for the Fourth International (spe- 
cifically, the ICL) or continued political solidarity with 
it. The other question (fusion with the AWP) involved 
either laying the ground for a speedy disruption of the 
fusion, of the new party, or the consummation of the 
fusion on a proper and healthy basis. In both cases the 
Oehler faction represented the former tendency, and we 
the latter. 

Faced with the anomaly of this political situation 
and a division of the delegates to the convention which 
did not correspond to it organizationally, it was the 
duty of the NC to make efforts to solve the difficulty. 
At the very outset of the convention, therefore, we 
called a private conference with the entire Chicago del- 
egation and proposed to them the formation of a polit- 
ical bloc which would establish a majority in the con- 
vention, thereby giving it the indispensable political 
direction, and which would joindy select the new lead- 
ership to represent the CLA contingent in the fused 
party. Our opinion of the unprincipled origin and con- 
duct of the Weberites did not, it goes without saying, 
alter the following facts: 1) they represented a measur- 
able group of delegates in the convention and conse- 
quendy among the membership, whose existence had 
to be taken into consideration; 2) they asserted their 
political solidarity with the NC on the two decisive 
political questions before the CLA These objective 
facts entirely warranted the formation of the bloc which 
we proposed, because of the simple reason that it would 


be principled. Whatever minor differences might exist 
between the two component parts of the bloc, and 
especially organizational differences, could and should 
be decided within the bloc, which had a common basis 
in principled agreement. 

"It was revealed in the discussion at the CLA con- 
vention that the Cannon group had proposed a bloc to 
Oehler in order to fight the Weber group with whom 
they were in supposed political agreement," writes 
Glotzer in his November 20, 1935, letter to the I.S. of 
the ICL. 

If this were the case, then our proposal to the Chicago 
Weberites would indeed stand exposed as a shabby, 
unprincipled maneuver on our part to establish a major- 
ity at any cost and with any body. But Glotzer's assertion 
is simply — to use a long word where a shorter one would 
sound better — a falsehood and a deliberate one. Like 
every delegate and visitor to our convention, Glotzer 
knows that while the highly "principled" Oehlerite J. 
Gordon, and one or two others, did approach Cannon 
and Shachtman with the proposal to form a bloc for the 
purpose of keeping Weber off the new National Com- 
mittee, Cannon and Shachtman and their whole group 
promptly and categorically rejected any idea of any son 
of bloc with a faction with whom they were in absolutely 
no principled solidarity whatsoever. If the fantastic bloc 
about which Glotzer speaks did not come into existence, 
it was not because of the reluctance of the Oehlerites — 
quite the contrary! — but because of our unhesitating 
rejection of it. What purpose does Glotzer think to serve 
with this stupid invention? The purpose of muddying 
things up and of covering up the actual, verifiable facts 
about what took place. 

Now, what was the reaction of the Chicago states- 
men to our proposal for a bloc? They rejected it out of 
hand! Because they disagreed with our main political 
line on the main political questions? No, as has already 
been shown by documents, they endorsed it. Because 
they disagreed with the continuation of the same 
majority in the leadership, and proposed that a new 
majority, a new leadership should be elected? No, not 
even that! Difficult as it is to believe about these people 
who, both then and now, inveigh so violently against 
the "Cannon-Shachtman leadership," they not only 
insisted that the subcommittee of Cannon and Shacht- 
man should continue with the final official negotiations 
with the AWP (without the slightest proposal to change 
the composition of this subcommittee, which, accord- 
ing to Gould, did such an "opportunistic" job of it), but 
they protested their firm intention to vote, at the end 
of our convention, for a new National Committee in 
which the old NC majority (the same scoundrels, Can- 
non and Shachtman) would continue to have a major- 

ity. We thus have the following indisputable political 
facts — not inventions, but facts: 

1 . The Weberites did not challenge our main line with 
regard to the fusion; on the contrary, they endorsed it. 

2. The Weberites did not challenge our main line with 
regard to the "entry" in France; on the contrary, they 
endorsed it. 

3. The Weberites did not even contest our leadership 
of the CLA; despite this sniping criticism and that one, 
they insisted that we continue to predominate in the 

What would a Bolshevik politician conclude from 
these facts? If you intend to vote for a leadership to con- 
tinue in office; if you have no intention of replacing that 
leadership with one of your own; if, in other words, 
despite minor criticism, you insist that a certain group 
continue to take the political and organizational 
responsibility for the party's leadership, it is your politi- 
cal duty to solidarize yourself politically with that group, 
with that leadership, and to defend it from the attacks of 
another group with which you are fundamentally in dis- 
agreement (in this case, the Oehler group). If you do not 
fight for the leadership yourself (and we insisted in our 
conference with them that if they do not support us, 
then they should themselves take over the responsibility 
of leadership), it is your political duty to make a bloc 
with that group and the leadership for which you are 
going to vote in order to establish a firm political major- 
ity in a convention where the relationship of forces 
threatens to have questions setded by chance. But we said 
this is what a Bolshevik politician would conclude. The 
Weberites came to an opposite conclusion. 

An opposite conclusion because they were (as they still 
are) animated not by political and principled considera- 
tions, but by pettifogging personal antipathies, by the 
yearning to revenge old, outlived, unimportant scores, by 
fear of tying themselves down politically in such a way 
as to interfere with their desire to fish around for unprin- 
cipled combinations in every direction. 

The bloc with us was clearly indicated by the situa- 
tion: by political agreement, by agreement on decisive 
leadership, and by the anomalous relationship of forces 
at the convention. But the Weberites would not take 
the step that was clearly indicated. They were interested 
in "taking a crack" at the outgoing NC majority for its 
"organizational methods" and its "delinquencies," and 
in getting J. Weber elected to the incoming NC. 

So far as the latter point was concerned, we stood 
firmly opposed to putting Weber on the NC for the two 
good reasons that (1) in the preceding six months in par- 
ticular he had more than sufficiendy demonstrated his 
political irresponsibility, lack of seriousness and balance, 
and (2) we saw no reason why the convention should put 


a premium on the kind of clique politics which, espe- 
cially to the New York comrades, Weber symbolized. 
That our opposition to Weber was not aimed to "disfran- 
chise" a "political tendency," as some would try to claim, 
is evidenced by the fact that we proposed that Satir and 
Glotzer, or any two chosen from their ranks by the Chi- 
cago delegation, should be placed on the incoming NC; 
and by the fact, further, that it was Shachtman who 
insisted that Glotzer stand as candidate for the NC when 
the latter sought to decline when nominated. (And, let 
it be added parenthetically for the benefit of those who 
have been victims of the Weber caucus lie-factory story 
that we kept Abern off the NC. Abern had not only 
announced months before the convention that he would 
not accept being on the next NC, but not all the efforts 
of his caucus colleagues at the convention could prevail 
upon him to take up the responsibilities devolving upon 
any NC member; he did not choose to run.) 

So far as the first point is concerned, there were, 
beyond any dispute, more than enough grounds for 
complaint against the manner in which the outgoing 
NC of the CLA had functioned. It was far from a 
model of efficiency. But for members of the NC like 
Glotzer, Edwards, Abern and Spector to lead the "fight" 
against the "Cannon-Shachtman-Swabeck NC" was 
nothing more or less than brazen impudence. So far as 
the actual functioning of the old NC was concerned, it 
was confined exclusively to the three members whose 
"regime" the Weberites tried to make their target, with 
the possible addition of Oehler, who at least took his 
share of the responsibility for the organizational work 
of the League and did not retire to his tent to sulk. The 
whole burden of the League's work, conducted under 
the greatest of handicaps, and the whole burden of the 
League's political line fell upon the shoulders of the 
three comrades named. 

If they did not discharge themselves of their tasks in 
an exemplary manner, they were nevertheless the only 
ones who did carry out the responsibilities of leadership: 
the work of administration, of editing the periodicals, of 
doing the writing, speaking and touring for the League, 
of representing it publicly and defending its line in the 
working class, of laying down the political line (and a 
correct one!) of the League on the decisive questions fac- 
ing it. And this was done under the "terrible regime" of 
the three comrades without the slightest assistance from 
Spector, who left his responsibilities in the Resident 
Committee to return to Canada; from Glotzer, who also 
left his responsibilities in the Resident Committee to 
return to Chicago; from Edwards, who never came to 
New York, it is true, but who was systematically passive 
in the Chicago organization; from Abern, who absented 
himself from committee meetings for months at a time 

and who took over the management of the theoretical 
organ only after he had literally been beseeched for 
months to take over some responsible post. 

The whole Weberite attack on the "regime" was 
exploded into thin air when we presented our resolu- 
tion on the organizational report of the NC. In this 
document, which we do not hesitate to call a model of 
revolutionary self-criticism, the actualities of the situa- 
tion in the leadership were presented to the member- 
ship in so trenchant and incontrovertible a manner 
that, minority though our group was in the convention, 
the resolution was adopted by a majority vote. Not only 
for its intrinsic value, but because of the true and 
revealing picture it gives of the situation in the CLA 
leadership and ranks, we reproduce the full text of the 
resolution as an appendix to this document. 

And now back to the question of the "blocs." We 
refused to make a bloc with the Oehlerites because we 
had no political agreement with them. The Weberites 
refused to make a bloc with us although they did have 
political agreement with us. But we do not imagine that 
their refusal was based on any opposition , to blocs "as 
such." Just as we and Marxists in general argue that any 
bloc is good if it has a common political basis, even, as 
Trotsky once put it, a "bloc with a Sancho Panza" like 
Kamenev, so the Weberites argue that any bloc is good 
if it has a common basis of opposition to Cannon- 
Shachtman and their "organizational methods." So that 
at the end of the convention, after having voted together 
with the Oehlerites on one organizational point after 
another, even to the extent of supporting Stamm's reso- 
lution on the NC organizational report, the Weberites 
finally consummated a formal bloc with the Oehlerites 
against us! 

Time and again the Weberites have of course sought 
to deny this fact, which we made so -uncomfortable for 
them. When they do not deny it, they try to pass it off 
blandly as a trifle, as a matter of course, as something that 
causes them honest puzzlement when it is attacked. "It 
is also stated," writes Glotzer in the aforementioned let- 
ter to the I.S., "that the Weber group made a bloc with 
the Oehler group at that time. The bloc consisted in this: 
Oehler's agreement to vote for Weber as a member of the 
NC and the rights of all viewpoints to be represented on 
the NC." So far as the second point in this unprincipled 
pact was concerned, there was never any ground for it, 
for nobody challenged the right referred to. We had 
made adequate provisions in our NC slate for represen- 
tation for both the Weber and Oehler groups. The basis 
for the bloc was simply a cheap horse-trade in which the 
Weberites pledged themselves to vote for Stamm on the 
NC in return for the Oehlerite pledge to vote for Weber 
on the NC. 


This piece of unprincipled vote-swapping was offi- 
cially endorsed by the two caucuses, and formally 
arranged by MacDonald, the Weberite fraternal dele- 
gate from Canada, who acted as intermediary in the 
negotiations for the bloc and who, in general, played, to 
put it blundy, a shabby and not very glorious role in the 
whole miserable business. Just how putrid the deal 
really was may be seen from the CLA convention min- 
utes, which we quote hereafter. 

On the first vote, the following ten were declared 
elected to the National Committee: Cannon (42 votes, 
unanimous), Shachtman (42), Oehler (42), Skoglund 
(41), Swabeck (41), Dunne (40), Satir (39), Lewit (26), 
Sam Gordon (23), Stamm (23). Glotzer, Giganti and 
Weber, with 22 votes each, were tied for the eleventh 
place. What had happened? The 13 Weberites, loyal to 
the bargain, had joined with the 10 Oehlerites to elect 
Stamm. But the Oehlerites did not stay so loyal: one of 
their ten, out of spite against Weber, voted instead for 
Sam Gordon, thus electing him and... double-crossing 
the Oehlerite ally, Weber! The honest indignation of the 
Weberites knew no bounds. How could people be so 
dirty! The convention minutes then read: 

Chairman proposed that the three names (i.e., Glotzer, 
Giganti, Weber) be placed before the convention for vot- 
ing. Comrade MacDonald of Canada objected to proce- 
dure, stated that it was clear that the results of the elec- 
tion did not represent the wishes of the majority (!!) of 
the convention and proposed re-opening of nominations 
and elections.... Proposal by Oehler that the Weber 
group should choose which of the three tied nominees 
should be a member of the NC. Objection by Cannon — 
proposal that the three should be voted on. Accepted by 

In the discussion that followed, lasting through the 
night, we hammered away so powerfully at this unprin- 
cipled bloc that the majority was finally broken! Kotz, 
until then affiliated with the Weber group, could not 
stomach the deal; nor could Morgenstern, till that point 
a supporter of the Oehlerites; Weiss, another Weberite, 
finally decided to abstain. When the vote was finally cast, 
it stood: Glotzer 21, Weber 20, and 1 abstention. In the 
voting for the alternates, however, the shattered bloc ral- 
lied somewhat, with the result that Weberites and 
Oehlerites together made Basky the first alternate and 
Weber the second. 

What were the political basis, the essence, and the les- 
son of the bloc? It should be emphasized that this must 
be understood not only in order to realize what hap- 
pened at the CLA convention, which is of comparatively 
remote importance, but to realize the political character 
of the groupings now appearing before our second 
national convention. 

1 . The Oehlerites denounced the Weberites as repre- 

senting the right wing of the CLA; Oehler declared he 
had nothing at all in common, politically, with Weber; 
if"anything, said Oehler, he had more in common with 
us, presumably because of our position on "organic 
unity" with which he agreed; finally, the Oehlerites had 
proposed to us a bloc against Weber. 

2. The Weberites denounced the Oehlerites as repre- 
senting ultraleft sectarianism in the CLA; Weber 
declared, as he still does, we take it, that he had nothing 
at all in common, politically, with Oehler, and every- 
thing in common with us, except for the secondary point 
on "organic unity"; finally, the Weberites insisted that 
we retain the leadership of the organization. 

Is it permissible, then, for the right and the ultraleft 
to form a bloc — oh, not a very big one, of course, just a 
little organizational bloc — against, let us assume for a 
moment, the "center"? In our opinion, and in the opin- 
ion of every Marxist who stands on principled grounds, 
it is impermissible! But it will be said — and it was said 
in greater detail later on, in the WP — they both had 
organizational differences with the "center" and the bloc 
was "only" on an organizational question; they both dis- 
agreed with the "organizational methods" of Cannon- 
Shachtman, and that consideration justified the bloc. 
The argument is fundamentally reactionary. Let us see 
what the established Marxian view is on this question. 

In 1928-1929, the Bukharinist right wing broke 
with the Stalinist center and started secret negotiations 
for a "little organizational" bloc with Left Opposition- 
ist elements in order jointly to combat the detestable 
organizational methods of Stalin. Politically, the right 
had much in common with Stalin and nothing in com- 
mon with the left; politically, the left has much in 
common with Stalin (at that junction) and nothing in 
common with the right; both right and left, however, 
had, or seemed to have, something in common "organ- 
izationally" against Stalin. Here is what Trotsky wrote 
at that time concerning the bloc proffered by Bukharin 

Shall we make a bloc with the right wing to revenge 
ourselves upon the Stalinists, for their rudeness, their dis- 
loyalty, their expulsions and abuse of loyal revolutionists, 
for Article 58, for the "Wrangel officer"? No, we the prin- 
cipled Bolshevik-Leninists can never make a bloc with 
the right wing against the centrists. On the contrary, 
insofar as the centrists fight the right wing we support 
them, while criticizing their half-heartedness and putting 
forth our own line. Blocs between the right and the left 
have been made in other revolutions, but they have also 
ruined these revolutions. ("Appeal to the Sixth Congress 
of the Comintern" [12 July 1928]) 

And again, in his polemic shortly afterward against 
the leader of the German Left Opposition, Urbahns, 
who proposed a "little organizational bloc" with the 


right-wing Brandlerites against the Stalinists, Trotsky 


How can factional collaboration with the right wing, 
who adopt an opposite principled position, bring the left 
closer to the conquest of the party? It is clear that the only 
thing that could be produced here is an organizational 
combination which breaks into the principled position. A 
group could enter into such a combination only if it strives 
and hastens to adopt a place in the party which absolutely 
does not correspond to its ideological-political strength. 
(Note that well, Weber! — MS) But this is the road to sui- 
cide and nothing else. I have more than once been forced 
to observe that political impatience becomes the source of 
opportunistic policy. . . . The factional mechanics of the 
struggle must never stand above its principled content, 
even if only for a single hour. 

Finally, writing about the case of Mill, who had also 
made a "little organizational bloc" — just a temporary 
one! — with a group in the French Left Opposition 
which he had defined as non-Marxist, against another 
group which, although he called it Marxist, was 
charged by him with having bad "organizational meth- 
ods" — Mill, who logically concluded this political prac- 
tice by passing over to the Stalinists, Trotsky summar- 
ized the situation in a letter written October 13, 1932: 

For Mill, principles are in general clearly of no impor- 
tance; personal considerations, sympathies and antipa- 
thies, determine his political conduct to a greater degree 
than principles and ideas. The fact that Mill could pro- 
pose a bloc with a man whom he had defined as non- 
Marxist against comrades whom he had held to be Marx- 
ists showed clearly that Mill was politically and morally 
unreliable and that he was incapable of keeping his loy- 
alty to the flag. If he betrayed on that day on a small scale, 
he was capable of betraying tomorrow on a larger scale. 
That was the conclusion which every revolutionist should 
have drawn then. 

Is it any wonder, therefore, that we who had been 
taught for years in the school of Lenin and Trotsky to 
shun and combat the kind of politics described so bit- 
ingly by the above quotations should have fought so 
bitterly against the unprincipled Weber-Oehler bloc at 
the CLA convention? What was decisive with us was not 
the question of one more or one less "opponent" on the 
NC the majority of which was already conceded us. 
What was decisive was the necessity of smashing this con- 
ception of politics as soon as it showed its ugly head, of 
preventing such poison from entering the system of our 
organization, of educating the membership to detest 
unprincipled combinationism and clique maneuvers and 
of teaching it how to struggle against them, even on a 
small scale, so that when our revolutionists face such 
practices on a bigger scale in the class struggle, they will 
more effectively be able to deal them mortal blows. 

One need not go to quotations from Trotsky. Picture 

a situation in a trade union which is led by a more or less 
"progressive" leadership which carries on reprehensible 
organizational machinations against the extreme right as 
well as against the revolutionary left wing of the union. 
Such situations have existed and do exist in this and 
other countries — by the hundreds. Each from his own 
(i.e., from opposite) principled standpoint fights against 
the bureaucratic progressive administration which, while 
progressive in comparison with the right wing it has 
replaced, nevertheless resorts to bad "organizational 
methods" against both its opponents. (The Lovestone- 
Zimmerman administration of Local 22, striking at the 
extreme right and at the proletarian left at the same time, 
might serve as a good case in point.) Election time 
arrives. Neither the right nor the left is strong enough, 
by itself, to oust the administration. Is it conceivable for 
Marxists to agree under any conditions to an organiza- 
tional bloc — be it even for one or two more members of 
the two oppositions on the incoming executive board — 
between the left and the right? For Marxists, no, no, no! 
The Stalinists have made such blocs and do make them 
today. But that's precisely why we denounce them as trai- 
tors to revolutionary principle. 

We are not now even arguing whether or not Weber 
and Oehler were right in condemning our "organiza- 
tional methods" or our "regime." We contend of course 
that they were wrong. But let us assume for a moment 
that there were grounds for their condemnation of us. 
Even in that case, the bloc was absolutely impermissible. 
The Weberites, had they been principled politicians, 
would have had to say: The organizational methods and 
regime of Cannon and Shachtman are indubitably bad. 
Furthermore, by their false position on "organic unity" 
they are able to fight the Oehlerites only half-heartedly 
and half-successfully. Yet on the decisive political ques- 
tions, we agree with the main line of C-S, and with the 
main line of their fight against the ultraleft sectarians, 
international splitters, the anti-Trotskyists, that is, the 
Oehlerites. We must therefore ally ourselves at every 
point with the NC which is fighting the menace of 
Oehlerism; if it is weak, we must strengthen it; under no 
circumstances, however, will we give the Oehlerites the 
slightest bit of comfort, either political or organizational. 
Our organizational differences with the NC majority we 
will settle — but within the sphere of our principled 
agreement with it, in our own way, and without allying 
ourselves for this purpose with those elements with 
whom we have nothing at all in common politically, with 
whom we are irreconcilable in principle. 

Had this been the Weberite attitude, had they not 
been animated above all by the contemptible urge to 
get another vote on the NC even if they had to pay for 
it by voting for an opponent in principle (and ending 


by being double-crossed!), their line might have been 
clear and would not have the stigma of unprincipled- 
ness branded upon it. They would have helped educate 
the party and youth comrades, and their own faction 
members to boot; they would have helped prepare the 
CLA comrades for the eventuality of a struggle against 
the anti-Trotskyists in the new party instead of prepar- 
ing them to serve as shield-bearers for this reactionary 
tendency. They might have served as a progressive fac- 
tor; they served instead as a retrogressive one, as an 
obstacle to the advance of the movement, as the mud in 
every clear stream. 

Yet, it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. If the 
Weberites, by their shameful conduct at the CLA con- 
vention, contributed nothing positive to the move- 
ment, they at least created a situation which afforded us 
the concrete opportunity of drawing a living contrast 
between Marxian politics and unprincipled combina- 
tionism, between admissible blocs and inadmissible 
blocs, between revolutionary principle and clique 
intrigues. It is this contrast which facilitated the solu- 
tion of the internal problem with which we were soon 
to be faced inside the united party. 

The Workers Party Up To 
the June Plenum 

The building of an effective political party, especially 
a revolutionary Marxian party, is hardly the simplest 
thing in the world, and unfortunately there are no cut- 
and-dried universal formulae which can be applied to 
every situation at every time. What we have to go by are 
the general experiences of the revolutionary movement; 
what we can always guide ourselves by is the good rule: 
base yourselves always on the tested and unassailable 
principles of Marxism, and after making a political 
analysis of each concrete situation, act politically; avoid 
rigid formalism, subjective considerations, personal 
combinations, old prejudices; allow for the aid which 
time and corroborating events will always bring to your 
political line. But above all, have a political line, based 
upon a political analysis of the situation or problem 
which is before you concretely. 

With these general rules for building the party, we 
have been able to see more than a day ahead and to be 
prepared in advance accordingly. That too is why our 
organizational methods, so violendy criticized by all 
our inner-party opponents, were not the product of 
caprice, of accident, of episodic contingency, but, on 
the contrary, the logical, thought-out product of a con- 
sistent political line. 

The Weberites and Oehlerites in the CLA first broke 
their pick, in one sense, on abstract and formalistic 
comparisons in making their political analysis of the 

AWP. The CLA was a revolutionary Marxian group, 
they declared (and they were right), and the AWP was 
a typically centrist group (and they were wrong because 
that characterization was inadequate and consequendy 
false). More than one Weberite, for example, wrote and 
said that the AWP and the S.A.P. of Germany [Socialist 
Workers Party of Germany] were identical, or, if any 
difference existed between the two, it was all in favor of 
the S.A.P. "who are far more developed, capable and 
intelligent than the Muste people, in fact, who are 
closer to us than the Musteites" — as Glotzer put it with 
his customary penetration and far-sightedness. On the 
Oehlerite side, this approach led to an antagonistic sus- 
picion to the AWP, so intense that (and this in itself 
would be a sufficient mark of the sterility of the Oehler- 
ites) when they finally broke from the party they had 
not won to their banner a single known ex-AWP mem- 
ber. On the Weberite side, this approach led to oppo- 
site results, in this sense at least: when they found out 
that the former AWPers were not the incorrigible cen- 
trists they had falsely labelled them, their astonishment 
was so great that — pushed on by their factional consid- 
erations as well — they tore off the old label, affixed 
exacdy the opposite kind to Muste and fell all over 
themselves to make a bloc with him... against us! 

Our analysis of the AWP was quite different from that 
of either of our CLA opponents. The AWP is a centrist 
organization, it is true, but an entirely unique one, with 
great revolutionary potentialities. Unlike, let us say, the 
S.A.P., it did not represent a long-established political 
movement steeped for years in social-democratic tradi- 
tions, permeated by a rigid system of political ideas and 
dominated by an impervious, mossbacked bureaucracy. 
Far from it. Its centrism was of a fresh, vigorous, imma- 
ture kind. It merely represented the temporary transi- 
tional phase of a movement from militant trade union- 
ism and activism in the class struggle to a revolutionary 
political party. It was groping for its program and was 
distincdy receptive to Marxian influence. With the 
exception of a Salutsky or two, who represented con- 
firmed Menshevism and systematic opposition to Marx- 
ism, but who were not authentically representative of 
the movement they temporarily headed or influenced, 
even the leadership of the AWP could not be mentioned 
in the same breath with the ossified centrists at the head 

From this analysis we concluded that the forces con- 
tributed to the new party by the AWP could not 
and would not offer any fundamental, organized, polit- 
ical difficulty in the progress of the fusion. Salutsky- 
Hardman had been disposed of with ease, without either 
political or organizational convulsions, and this was 
very significant for the future, because if this trained 


right-wing politician could do nothing even to begin to 
disrupt the fusion, then there was every reason to believe 
that the right-wing elements, confined essentially to scat- 
tered or confused individuals, would not constitute a 
serious problem inside the party. 

They would not constitute a serious problem, that is, 
if the comrades of the CLA in particular conducted 
themselves in such a way as not to bring about a crystal- 
lization of the dispersed and isolated right-wing forces 
into a firm right-wing faction, with a worked-out plat- 
form and rallying center of its own. Our analysis of the 
situation led us to the conclusion that the right-wing 
elements in the AWP could become a danger to the new 
party only if irresponsible, formalistic ultraleft sectar- 
ians from the CLA were permitted to act so as to drive 
the right-wing elements together into a force. Only with 
the involuntary but nonetheless effective assistance of 
these sectarians could the right wing hope to keep alive 
and heighten the prejudices of many AWP militants 
against the fusion, against the "Trotskyists" and against 

These ideas were not formed in our minds as a post- 
factum explanation of what happened in the internal 
disputes of the WP. We were prepared for these dis- 
putes, and prepared to hold the party together, precisely 
because these ideas were developed by us in advance. 
After pointing out that the years of training it had 
undergone had prepared the CLA cadre to act as a firm 
spinal column for the new party, the Shachtman- 
Cannon pre-convention thesis of the CLA warned, as 
far back as the fall of 1934: 

Nor is this analysis to mean that the League forces which 
contribute to the building of the new party can convert 
themselves into a caste of Brahmins, loftily deigning to 
confer their leadership upon a lower caste. Such an attitude 
would not only be despicable and unworthy of revolution- 
ists, but would automatically guarantee the reduction of 
the new party movement to a hopeless sect. The heart of 
a movement must be an integral part of it — not something 
apart from it — working together harmoniously with all the 
other organs and parts of the movement, pumping blood 
throughout the whole organism and constantly receiving 
new blood. Otherwise the whole organism withers and 
dies. An attitude of communist priggishness or conceit, 
especially towards elements, groups, forces that may make 
up the ranks of the new party other than those coming 
from our League, would be equivalent to isolating our 
ideas from the ideas of the party, would be equivalent 
to facilitating the domination of non-communist ideas 
and elements in the party. We have no narrow factional 
interests or aims in the new party movement; of all the 
available forces, we are merely the most persistent, the 
most conscious and advanced, the most consistent ele- 
ment. We can make no greater contribution than this, nor 
do we need to. 

At the same time, the NC majority was apprehensive 
about certain elements that the CLA would contribute 
to the fusion and warned against any religious attitude 
towards anybody in the new party just because we had 
once carried a membership card in the CLA: "This does 
not mean that any iron guarantees can be given for this 
cadre. Nor does it mean that the cadre is all that could 
be wished for, or all that is needed. The biggest tests of 
the cadre are still ahead. And secondly, its value is not 
absolute but relative." 

This analysis dictated to us our course in the first 
period of the existence of the WP. We knew there were 
many in the ranks of the CLA — above all, Oehlerites — 
whose eyes gleamed at the thought of entering the new 
party for the purpose of ramming a course on "Bolshe- 
vization" a la Zinoviev down the throats of a lot of 
"damned centrists." We determined to set ourselves 
firmly against this thoroughly unhealthy tendency. For 
one reason and another, many of the best militants of 
the AWP were beset with apprehensions about the CLA 
contingent in the fusion, about what they thought to be 
(or had been mis-taught to think was) our exclusive 
preoccupation with everything in the world save the 
class struggle in the United States; our inability or 
unwillingness to participate in the daily life of the 
American proletariat; our predilection for endless dis- 
cussion of obscure theoretical questions, of remote 
problems, of hairsplitting Talmudism. These and other 
prejudices had to be dispelled for two good reasons: 
firsdy, they were without foundation insofar as they 
referred to the "Trotskyist" movement, however well- 
based they may have been with regard to this or that 
individual or group in it; secondly, with these preju- 
dices prevalent even in a section of the new party, it 
would be unable to function harmoniously and effec- 
tively, with mutual confidence among the ranks and the 

Now, that was our political analysis, from which 
flowed our political line in the fused party, from which, 
in turn, flowed our "organizational methods." The 
three constituted a harmonious whole. 

At the other end of the CLA stood the Oehler group. 
If its course is really to be understood, it must be 
explained politically. Otherwise, it will remain in the rec- 
ollections of some comrades as some strange, incompre- 
hensible, inexplicable phenomenon produced by psycho- 
logical conditions or personal caprice. The political 
analysis of the Oehler group, to put it in a word, was that 
the WP was a centrist party. The political line of the 
Oehler group, in another word, was to recruit inside this 
party for their anti-Trotskyist faction and to split this fac- 
tion from the party at the earliest moment. Its organiza- 
tional methods flowed from this analysis and line, could 


not but have flowed from them, and cannot be explained 
without them as their basis. Let us establish these asser- 
tions from the record and from other verifiable facts. 

There can be litde doubt now that if the CLA had not 
fused with the AWP the Oehler group, like the Bauer- 
ites in Germany and Lhuillierites in France, would have 
split away from the American section of the ICL to form 
an independent sect of their own. If they did not split 
from us before or during the CLA convention, it was 
only because they saw the opportunity of escaping the 
discipline of the ICL by joining the unaffiliated new 
party and continuing to work for their platform within 
its ranks. That is the only reason why, after we pressed 
them to the wall so relentlessly at the CLA convention, 
they pledged themselves to loyal collaboration with the 
ICL in the new party, pledged themselves to abide by the 
decisions of the plenum of the ICL which endorsed the 
French turn, and pledged themselves to dissolve their fac- 
tion upon entering the new party. 

All their pledges were merely a ruse, a disloyal strata- 
gem. His real position was formulated by Oehler in the 
resolution he presented on the ICL plenum, stating that 
"the comrades in the SFIO have contrary to the resolu- 
tion furled the banner of the Fourth International and 
raised the banner of organic unity. Let him who dares 
assert the contrary. By declaring for organic unity the 
comrades in the SFIO have given positive support to the 
social patriots of both parties. They have thereby 
assumed a share of the responsibility of the treachery 
which is in preparation. The plenum shares the respon- 
sibility of our French comrades." 

In other words, Oehler gave the following political 
characterization of the forces remaining loyal to the ICL 
and its principles: they have furled the banner of the 
Fourth International; they are assistants of the social 
patriots and they share the responsibility for treason 
to the proletariat. Such elements, included among whom 
were Cannon and Shachtman, could not lead a revolu- 
tionary Marxian party except to new treacheries. Only 
the Oehlerites, by their activities inside the new party, 
could convert it from centrism to Marxism. "The unfin- 
ished work of ideological clarification and solidification 
of the force that must be the Marxian core of the new 
party," declared Stamm in his resolution at the CLA 
convention, "remains to be done and will have to be car- 
ried out inside the new party." But precisely because this 
work had not been done preliminary to founding the 
party, it was centrist, for, let us not forget, in the 
Oehlerite conception the new party is centrist if it has a 
"non-Marxian program through omissions." If further 
evidence is required from documents, it may be found 
in the fact that the Oehlerite J. Gordon voted in the New 
York District Committee to admit to party membership 

the four ex-Weisbordites who applied to the WP with the 
statement that they disagreed with our Declaration of 
Principles and considered the WP a centrist party! 

It should further be remembered that included in the 
Oehlerite dogmas is the conception that a reformist or 
centrist party cannot be "reformed." Oehler's whole argu- 
ment against the supporters of the French turn was based 
on this absurd contention. It is absolutely essential, he 
argued, to give any group we may send into a reformist 
or centrist party a split perspective in advance. These stu- 
pidities can be found in any of the Oehlerite documents. 
But stupid or not is beside the point here. Important is 
the fact, the Oehlerite "Marxist group" entered the "cen- 
trist" WP with the fundamental aim of splitting as large 
as possible a force from it to form the American section 
of the Oehlerite International. Especially confirmed in 
this line were the Oehlerites because of their conviction 
that the French turn supporters necessarily had to follow 
the same tactic in this country — say what they will, they 
would inevitably "liquidate the independent party" into 
the "stinking corpse of the Second International" in the 
United States. Finally, the Oehler doctrine declares that 
if revolutionary Marxists are in a non-Marxian party, 
they do not adhere to the discipline of the centrist or ref- 
ormist leadership, but obey only their own "revolution- 
ary discipline." The tactics, the policies, and above all the 
organizational methods pursued by the Oehlerites in the 
party, and especially in the internal fight, flowed from 
this political analysis and line — and could flow from no 
other. That is how we explained it for months and 
months in the recent period. No other political explana- 
tion for their conduct has been offered; none can be. 

Virtually the day after the new party was formed, 
therefore, saw the beginning of Oehler's activities to fin- 
ish "the unfinished work of ideological clarification and 
solidification." And these activities resulted in throwing 
the party into a frenzied fever, into one riot after another, 
into a hounding and persecution campaign which repro- 
duced on a small scale all the evil sides of the notorious 
Zinovievist "Bolshevization" campaign of 1925. 

Not satisfied with the clear-cut position taken on the 
Stalinist Kirov campaign by the significant joint edito- 
rial in the New Militant signed by Muste and Cannon, 
the Oehlerites (and — need we add? — the Weberites) 
demanded immediately a general membership meeting 
in New York. For what purpose? In order to "put the 
AWP leaders on the spot" on the "Russian question." 
That's what the Oehlerites were interested in. 

At the very first meeting on the trade-union ques- 
tion, where concrete tasks of trade-union work were to 
be discussed, the Oehlerites made a concerted effort to 
change the trade-union line of the party — and that in a 
Zackian direction. 


With hardly a month of existence behind the party, 
the Oehlerites began a savage campaign against Howe, 
the AWP representative in the editorship of the New Mil- 
itant. In Philadelphia, the Oehlerites made a public 
attack, at a WP lecture, on the ex-AWPer Ludwig Lore, 
who was speaking from the party platform and as an offi- 
cial party speaker. In New York, Oehler and Stamm, at 
the membership meeting to discuss the Russian situa- 
tion, violated the elementary discipline of the NC to 
which they belonged by making an open attack on the 
official NC reporter, Shachtman. (Again, need we add 
that Weber and Gould did the same thing at a subse- 
quent meeting?) Demands were made for the immedi- 
ate expulsion of Solon, also a former AWP member. 

In the case of Budenz, the Oehlerites raised a hue 
and cry throughout the party about the terrible "right 
danger" which threatened to inundate the organization 
and sweep it into the swamp of reformism. In the case 
of the discussion of the language-branch question, the 
Oehlerites created another riot in the party, with Basky, 
a member of the NC (and — need we add? — Weber, 
who, member of the NC though he was, signed a 
round-robin attack on the NC position together with 
the Oehlerite Gordon in the New York DC), violating 
NC discipline by openly agitating in the ranks against 
its position. The famous "West resolution" of perspec- 
tives with regard to the SP was immediately taken out 
of the ranks of the PC which was discussing it, disloy- 
ally misrepresented and distorted beyond recognition 
by the Oehlerites, and another hue and cry raised 
against the "liquidators" in the leadership. 

At every other meeting of the PC, Oehler and Stamm 
would appear with a new "thesis" to help "finish" the 
"unfinished work," and with a proposal for an immedi- 
ate discussion to be arranged in the party on this "the- 
sis." Time and again — with the party not yet three 
months old! — the Oehlerites in the PC demanded an 
internal discussion bulletin — not to discuss organiza- 
tional problems of the party, problems arising out of the 
work of carrying out the tasks set down for the party by 
the fusion convention, but political questions properly 
belonging to a pre-convention period, and at that, ques- 
tions which were not and could not be of primary impor- 
tance to a party just attempting to organize and launch 
itself in the class struggle. And in order further to ham- 
string the party and its work, Oehler proposed a bare 
month after the party was formed (January 21) that "any 
member of the PC has a right to call for a roll-call vote 
of all NC members on any issue he considers of sufficient 
importance" — a proposal that would simply have para- 
lyzed the PC and prevented it from carrying out a single 
decision with which Oehler did not happen to agree. A 
more utterly unrealistic and sectarian line for the party 

could hardly be imagined than the one pursued by 
Oehler & Co. prior to the Pittsburgh Plenum of the 
NC in March 1935. 

The fact that the Oehlerite line and methods were 
good for absolutely nothing at all — except perhaps for 
the complete disruption of the fusion — is shown con- 
cretely in the reaction to them of all the former members 
of the AWP, and especially of the active militants. Far 
from accomplishing the "unfinished work of ideological 
clarification and solidification," the Oehlerites succeeded 
only in heightening all the apprehensions and prejudices 
that had ever existed in the minds of these militants. And 
what good are all the highfalutin and fine-sounding the- 
ories about the "imperative need of ideological clarifica- 
tion" on various problems if those you seek to "clarify" 
are repelled, react violently against you and are driven 
right into the arms of those you claim you are fighting — 
the right wing? If the antagonistic reaction to Oehlerism 
in New York during those early months, from Muste 
down to the humblest rank-and-filer of the old AWP, 
were not enough to bring the irresponsible sectarians to 
their senses, the identical reaction of all the serious field 
workers who came to the Pittsburgh Plenum should have 
accomplished that purpose. But it simply made no dif- 
ference in the Oehlerite line. And that for the simple rea- 
son that, as experience shows, some sectarians are entirely 
hopeless, incorrigible. 

The Pittsburgh Plenum took a firm and unequivocal 
position with regard to the Oehlerite line. On the 
unanimous decision of the full NC (against the votes of 
Oehler and Stamm, of course), Shachtman gave a 
detailed report on the situation to the Active Workers 
Conference assembled at the same time and which the 
Oehlerites, with the aid of their latest recruit, Zack, had 
tried to disrupt at the very opening session. The report 
represented, formally, the line of the Political Com- 
mittee for the first three months of its existence. In a 
more direct sense, it represented also the line elaborated 
even before then and followed since by Cannon and 

In it, Shachtman put forward the general conceptions 
outlined on previous pages of this document. The fused 
party represented a unity of two different streams. It 
was only at its inception. It is ridiculous to imagine that 
the unity is all accomplished by the mere fact of a unity 
convention. Its real unification and solidification can be 
effected only in the course of joint work and joint elab- 
oration of policy, the prerequisite for which is the break- 
ing down of old organizational barriers and mutual polit- 
ical and psychological suspicions, the establishment of 
mutual confidence, and above all the establishment of an 
atmosphere which makes possible effective joint work 
and joint elaboration of policy. The unity which we 


worked so hard and carefully to establish can easily be 
disrupted, especially if anything is done to heighten the 
feeling, on one side, that the other is composed of wind- 
bags, hairsplitters and spittoon philosophers, and on the 
other side, that the first is composed of hard-boiled cen- 
trists and opportunists. Instead of sharpening and crys- 
tallizing prematurely and unnecessarily any divergent 
tendencies that may exist, it is imperative {especially in 
view of the fact that both organizations had just gone 
through a solid year of internal discussion prior to the 
fusion!) to plunge the party into concrete day-to-day 
work, to create a normal atmosphere instead of a super- 
heated one, to make possible the assimilation of all assim- 
ilable elements and not to declare, a priori, that this, that 
or the other comrade is unassimilable and must have an 
"ideological campaign" launched against him. 

The main core of the party leadership is sound, and 
it is essential to facilitate the collaboration of its ranks, 
precisely in order that it may be able, unitedly, to deal 
with inimical and unabsorbable elements, and deal with 
them in such a way and at such a time as will not create 
the suspicion in anyone's mind that the leadership is out 
to chop off heads, or — to put it more plainly — that the 
ex-CLAers are out to "Bolshevize" the party overnight by 
lopping off — whether for good reasons or not — one 
AWP man after another. The party is not only very 
young, but in many sections very immature. It is stupid 
to approach every one of its internal problems as if it 
were a solid, long-established, "old- Bolshevik" party and 
to act accordingly. It is like a political baby, in many 
respects, and it must be nursed along through all the dis- 
orders of infant growth. Essentially, that is the way to 
cement the fusion under the concrete conditions obtain- 
ing at the time. The Oehler line, sectarian and factional, 
is the way to disrupt the fusion. 

The cry of superior derision that went up from the 
super-Bolshevik ranks of the Oehlerites (and — need we 
add? — the Weberites) at the phrase "nurse the baby"! 
The very fact of their disdainful mockery of a formula 
whose political essence was unassailable revealed their 
utterly false estimate of our problem. They approached 
the WP, in which the unity was by no means firmly 
knit, with the same attitude as those other great Bol- 
shevizers of the American Communist Party, under 
Pepper, about whom Trotsky wrote so tellingly that 
they had already armed the CP "from head to foot with 
all the attributes of 'revolutionary organization,' so that 
it looks like a six-year-old boy wearing his father's 

The Pittsburgh Plenum of the NC adopted a resolu- 
tion on the situation which endorsed the main line of 
the PC for the three months of its activity and rejected 
the Oehlerite line as "sectarian and factional." This res- 

olution was not only supported by Muste and our- 
selves, but it represented our political and organiza- 
tional line: hit at the sectarians as the greatest obstacle 
to the fusion and who threaten to crystallize a right 
wing in the party, and strengthen the collaboration 
between the two main forces in the fusion upon whom 
its unity and progress depended most of all, namely, 
Cannon and Shachtman of the CLA and Muste and his 
friends of the AWP. 

The censure of the Oehlerites adopted at Pittsburgh 
did not, however, cause them to suspend their ultra- 
factional activities. Rendered desperate by this first, mild 
warning, the Oehlerites merely intensified their attacks 
upon the party line and the party leadership. Imme- 
diately after the Pittsburgh Plenum they launched a 
new hysteria campaign against the "right danger." "The 
Budenz article," reads a statement by Stamm-Basky- 
Oehler to the PC on April 22, "published before the 
Plenum and the fact that several leading comrades — 
Howe, Johnson, Truax — have identified themselves with 
the ideas advocated in this article since the Plenum, indi- 
cating that a number of comrades in the ranks of the 
party also support these ideas, prove that contrary to the 
Pittsburgh Plenum resolution a danger from the right 
exists in the party.... The PC should now change its 
course. It should declare that the danger to the party 
comes from the right. It should wage an ideological 
struggle in the party against the Budenz platform." 

Again, in accordance with our line, the PC rejected 
this estimate, and reaffirmed ours, namely, that the 
principal danger to the party emanated from the ultra- 
left sectarians. Were we correct or was Oehler? It would 
be sufficient answer to refer to the fact that two months 
later, at the June Plenum, Oehler did not so much as 
mention the "right danger" which, as late as the end of 
May, he had been rabble-rousing the party against. An 
even more effective answer and a confirmation of the 
entire correctness of our evaluation is contained, how- 
ever, in the results themselves. We said that while there 
were right elements, they constituted no particularly 
acute danger; that the party, by proceeding intelligently 
and not hysterically, would isolate the individual right- 
wingers and eliminate them without a convulsion in the 
party., without a party crisis. 

And that is precisely what happened. The party was 
able to slough off unassimilable elements who had for- 
merly been outstanding leaders of the AWP, and enjoyed 
the esteem and warm support of the AWP ranks, not 
only without causing a crisis in the party, but without 
losing any of the party's ranks to these right-wing figures. 
Budenz went over to Stalinism, but our policy prevented 
him from taking along a single member. Howe dropped 
out entirely, but he dropped out alone. Lore was 


expelled, but nobody went away with him. Solon and 
Calverton disappeared from the party horizon, but it 
never caused a ripple in our ranks. Breier resigned from 
the party, but nobody, either in Allentown or Pittsburgh, 
followed him out of the organization. 

Aren't these facts a crushing refutation of the Oehlerite 
hysteria and the Oehlerite line, as well as a complete con- 
firmation of the correctness of the analysis we made and 
the course we based upon it? These facts show what our 
political line and our organizational methods with regard 
to the right-wing elements looked like in reality and what 
they achieved for the party. Now let us see what the facts 
show about our line and methods with regard to the 
ultraleftists in the party. 

The sectarians, we contended, constitute, at the 
present junction, the principal danger to the party, the 
greatest obstacle to its normal, healthy progress. Their 
association, even in the last period of the CIA, with 
an international clique of splitters, of reactionary anti- 
Trotskyists, convinced us from the very beginning that, 
if they were to continue their line in the new party, we 
would inevitably come to an organizational parting of 
the ways with them. Does this mean that we had estab- 
lished, in advance, an expulsion policy towards the 
Oehlerites and that we were merely waiting for a "pre- 
text" on which to expel them? Or does it mean that we 
were wrong in having failed to expel them in the CLA 
rather than permit them to enter as a disruptive force 
into the composition of the new party? Neither one is 
correct, and for the following three reasons: 

1 . Under our pressure, the Oehlerites pledged them- 
selves at the CLA convention to remain loyal to the deci- 
sions of the convention, and to conduct themselves in a 
loyal manner inside the new party. 

2. Even if we had considered it correct to refuse to take 
this political declaration at its face value, it would have 
been impossible at that time to convince the comrades 
of the AWP that the Oehlerites should not be admitted 
into the new party; it would have been wrong to hold up 
the fusion until the AWP was made fully acquainted with 
all the details of the struggle that had gone on in the CLA 
with the Oehlerites, first, because with regard to the 
fusion the question was settled; second, because with 
regard to the French turn the question was not before the 
new party and it would have been the height of political 
unreality to demand a position on this question before 
we would consent to fusion; finally, it was necessary — 
assuming the continuation of the Oehlerite line in the 
new parry — to permit the AWP comrades to draw the 
conclusions about Oehlerism from their own experience 
with it, instead of attempting, in advance, to impose 
upon the AWP the conclusions we had drawn about 
Oehler from our experience. 

3. Finally, since it is not always true that once a sec- 
tarian always a sectarian, we had to take into account 
the possibility that joint work in the new party, a new 
attempt at comradely collaboration and common work- 
ing out of the political line of the party, would bring 
the Oehlerites to a change in their line. Just because we 
did not have an a priori expulsion policy with regard to 
Oehler & Co., we made it possible for him to enter the 
new party on an equal basis with all others, with equal 
opportunities for work and collaboration, unprejudiced 
by his position in the CLA. At the same time we did 
not intend to relax our vigilance against the first mani- 
festations of their sectarian line. Create the conditions 
that will facilitate their absorption into the mainstream 
of the party, give them posts and responsibilities, but 
demand of them, in addition to these rights, the obli- 
gation of every other party member, namely, submis- 
sion to general party discipline. 

That is exactly what we thought in theory and exactly 
what we carried out in practice. No attacks were levelled 
at Oehler, Stamm and Basky after the new party had 
come into existence. We immediately proposed that 
Oehler take over the highly important work of special 
organizer in southern Illinois, a strategic field from the 
standpoint of our trade-union work and work among the 
unemployed. Oehler demurred because he wanted to 
remain in the center to direct the activities of his fac- 
tion in completing the "unfinished work"; he insisted 
on becoming educational director of the party. We 
acquiesced to his proposal. Stamm, whom we proposed 
as manager of the New International, also objected to this 
post and demanded that he be placed in the work of the 
NPLD [Non-Partisan Labor Defense]. Here too we con- 
sidered our proposal the more correct one, but in the 
interest of obtaining the maximum collaboration of all 
elements, we finally acquiesced to Stamm's proposal also, 
and assigned him to defense work. Basky we placed in 
charge of the work in the foreign-language field. Other 
"leftists" were dealt with in the same manner. 

It was Cannon who proposed that Zack be assigned 
to the post of special trade-union organizer in New 
York, so that the party might fully utilize the contacts 
among the independent unionists which Zack claimed 
to have. It was Cannon who proposed, further, that 
Williamson, another Oehlerite, be assigned as a special 
organizer among the New York Negroes. Zack had an 
eastern tour of the party arranged for him. In a word, 
every effort was made by us to facilitate honest collab- 
oration with the ultraleftists, to make possible their 
assimilation into the normal life of the party. In face of 
all these facts, the story about our deep-dyed plot to 
"get" the "left wing" from the very beginning belongs in 
the realm of fiction and fancy, and not of reality. 


This deliberate policy of ours, however, was evidently 
interpreted by the Oehlerites as a sign of weakness. The 
series of riots organized by them, especially in New York, 
which culminated in the shameless attempt to disrupt 
and disorganize the Active Workers Conference in Pitts- 
burgh — even that did not encounter any severe action on 
our part. All we proposed at the Pittsburgh Plenum was 
a censure of their factionalism and a characterization of 
their sectarianism. No measures were proposed or taken 
against them, although they were richly deserved. The 
motion adopted in March was intended as a second 
warning to the Oehlerites — the first had been given 
them at the CLA convention — against a continuation of 
their sterile, disruptive course. We continued to hope 
that, with the overwhelming majority of the party obvi- 
ously against them, the Oehlerites might be convinced 
of the injuriousness of their course and that, while con- 
tinuing to grant them every right to present their special 
point of view on any question in normal party ways, we 
would not be compelled to proceed against them with 
organizational actions. 

Our hopes to steer the party through the sectarian 
danger without sharp measures were dashed by the 
intensified factionalism of the Oehlerites following the 
Pittsburgh Plenum, culminating in their actions in con- 
nection with the Zack case. These actions finally con- 
vinced us that the Oehlerites had embarked upon a des- 
perate course which could be ended only by allowing 
them to paralyze or smash the party, or by bringing 
them up short with summary disciplinary measures. 
What other course could responsible revolutionary 
leaders take but the latter? 

It is sometimes possible, with the aid of events them- 
selves and the superior position which Marxism has as 
compared with sectarianism, to win an ultraleftist cur- 
rent to the correct position in time. Marx, Lenin, 
Trotsky were able to do it more than once. Patience and 
the knowledge that time is working for the Marxian 
standpoint are required on the part of the leadership in 
order to deal properly with sectarians as well as with 
right-wing opportunists. There are, to be sure, limits to 
patience, and as a rule these limits are established when 
a recalcitrant group, however valuable may be individ- 
ual members of it, conducts itself in so irresponsible 
and disruptive a manner as to threaten the very exis- 
tence of the organization itself. That is why the princi- 
ple of democratic centralism is of such indispensable 
value to the movement. While affording minorities all 
the rights in the world to present their standpoint and 
defend it through normal party channels and under the 
guidance of the leadership which the party has selected 
to direct and safeguard the organization, the party must 
insist that discipline be maintained, that the minority, 

which is striving to become the majority of tomorrow, 
submit to the majority of today. 

If the sectarians (or right-wingers) refuse to obey this 
discipline, then, however regrettable it may be, there 
comes the parting of the ways. It has happened before 
our time; it will probably happen again in the future. It 
is an inevitable concomitant of political evolution under 
certain circumstances. With all their wisdom and skill, 
even such great leaders as Marx and Lenin and Trotsky 
found themselves faced on more than one occasion with 
an incorrigible group of unassimilable elements. An 
organizational rupture is never desirable; it should be 
averted if possible; it should not be wept over if it proves 
to be inevitable; and above all, of more importance than 
a small split is the safeguarding of the political line and 
the organizational integrity of the party. 

Any other approach means dilettantism, anarchism, 
petty-bourgeois dabbling, but not serious revolutionary 
politics. Any other approach means the disintegration of 
the movement — for all that a member or a group would 
have to do in order to break up the party would be to say: 
I have a political difference with the party leadership or 
the party line; therefore, I am under no obligations to 
obey party discipline. Grant that right to Oehler today, 
and Smith will take it tomorrow, and Jones the day after, 
until the party is completely disaggregated. 

The Zack case was precipitated by his flagrant 
breach of party discipline at the public meeting 
addressed by Cannon in New York on our trade-union 
line. Basing himself on a motion unanimously adopted 
by the PC on January 21, 1935, which called for a dis- 
sociation by the party from the trade-union line put 
forward by Zack, Cannon took occasion in the course 
of his remarks to state that while Zack had every right 
and opportunity to put forth his special standpoint 
inside our party, which does not seek for a Stalinist 
monolithism, it nevertheless had to be understood that 
the official party line was not that of Comrade Zack. 
This perfecdy normal procedure, followed in the com- 
munist movement for years without anybody feeling 
"offended" or considering it a "monstrous provoca- 
tion," was answered by Zack, speaking on his own 
authority and without permission from the party, rising 
in the meeting and taking public issue with the official 
representative of the party. This procedure was not only 
the exact opposite of "perfectly normal," but Zack, who 
knows what proper communist procedure is, knew it to 
be the case in this instance. 

That this was no accidental occurrence was evi- 
denced by the fact that at the same time Zack had sent 
a letter to the Minneapolis comrades, engaged in an 
action and pursuing the line unanimously adopted by 
the Political Committee, in which he urged them to 


reject the PC policy and to adopt his. It goes without 
saying that when Zack was a functionary of the CP, 
both in the pre-Stalinist and the post-Leninist periods, 
he would never have dreamed of writing a letter to a 
group of comrades in another city who were engaged in 
a class-struggle action with the proposal that they cast 
out the Central Committee policy and adopt his own. 
Such a letter would have been as much as his member- 
ship card was worth, and righdy so. This too Zack 
knew perfecdy well to be the case. 

And to give final evidence of his intention to break 
with the party, Zack, it was revealed, had sponsored an 
enterprise called the "Independent Unionist," a semi- 
political, semi-trade-union paper, which Zack was to 
edit, but which the party knew absolutely nothing about, 
concerning which Zack had never taken the trouble to 
consult with the party, or even to give it the faintest noti- 
fication that such a periodical was being planned. 

The Political Committee thereupon decided to file 
charges against Zack immediately, and to propose to his 
branch that he be prompdy expelled. With the exception 
of Stamm, the PC decided upon this measure unani- 
mously Here too we acted entirely in accordance with 
our line of loyal collaboration with the former members 
of the AWP. Not a single step was taken against Zack, 
and later against Stamm- Basky-Oehler, without previous 
consultation between us and the former AWP members 
of the PC: McKinney, Lore and West. Not only these 
comrades, but Muste, who was then in Toledo, was kept 
fully informed not only of the situation but also of our 
proposals and our perspectives. The story, later invented 
to serve as a factional platform against us, about the 
naive, innocent lambs, Lore, McKinney and Muste, who 
were bewitched and misled by the ogre Cannon, is too 
dull a fable even for infants. 

Cannons speech at the mass meeting was unani- 
mously endorsed by the PC (always, of course, with the 
exception of the Oehlerites). The preferring of charges 
against Zack was unanimously decided by the PC, all of 
whose members are past the age of six. The defense of 
the PC position was entrusted joindy to Swabeck, 
McKinney and Shachtman in the Bronx branch, of 
which Zack was a member. The decision of the Bronx 
branch, controlled by Oehlerites, to exonerate Zack was 
unanimously reversed by the PC and Zack just as unan- 
imously expelled. The decision to bring charges against 
Stamm and Basky (later, also Oehler) for flagrant viola- 
tion of discipline in attacking the PC before the mem- 
bership and circulating documents without authoriza- 
tion was made unanimously by the PC. Muste knew 
every single detail of what was happening; so did 
Weber. Neither one of them uttered a single word of 
protest, not one! 

Muste's reproduction (in part; it would be better if he 
printed it in full) of the "notorious" Cannon letter to him 
in Toledo, which is supposed to prove the "disloyal" con- 
spiracy against the Oehlerites and the AWPers plotted by 
us, proves precisely the contrary. By the picture it gives 
of the situation, by the account it gives of our proposals 
in the PC, by the account it gives of our perspectives with 
regard to the Oehlerites, it should be perfecdy plain that 
we worked openly and fraternally with Muste and his 
associates, that nothing mysterious and concealed had 
been plotted. 

"On returning recendy from Ohio," said Muste at 
the June Plenum, 

to the center, I found the party in the turmoil with which 
all of us are now familiar. I was aware from a letter sent 
me by Comrade Cannon which I will submit to the 
plenum when we deal with the internal situation that it 
was the purpose of himself and others to secure the expul- 
sion of the Oehler-Stamm group at this plenum. I had 
reason on the basis of this same letter to connect this pro- 
posed organizational measure with the policy of Comrade 
Cannon in re the so-called SP orientation with which I 
differ and which I regard as most injurious to the WP at 
this time. 

And later, in a statement to the PC meeting of August 
5, still repeating all the Oehlerite bunkum which con- 
stituted three-fourths of the Muste platform in those 
months, Muste denounced "Cannon's monstrous prov- 
ocation at the Zack meeting in May." 

Muste not only has a most unfortunate and undigni- 
fied habit of crawling out from under the responsibilities 
indicated by his political position of the day before, with 
the plaintive cry that he was tricked or misled by some 
shrewd schemer, bu. he also has the disconcerting habit 
of forgetting this Monday what he signed his name to 
last Monday, and forgetting so thoroughly or else attach- 
ing so little importance to his political documents, that 
they stand in glaring conflict with each other. Read the 
above characterizations of our conduct in the Zack affair, 
and then read the PC statement on it, dated June 4, a 
week before the plenum, sent to all party branches by the 
party secretary, Muste, and approved by him in the Sec- 
retariat. In that document, for which one wou! magine 
Muste would maintain sufficient responsibility to stand 
by it for a week, an entirely different picture of the Zack 
affair is presented: 

There were numerous and repeated demands from 
comrades in New York for a public exposition of our 
(trade union — MS) policy by means of a lecture. The lec- 
ture of Comrade Cannon served this aim. The internal 
situation, Zack's opinion on the French turn, the plot to 
"capitulate to the SP," the derelictions of other comrades, 
etc., had nothing to do with this matter. These issues 
were not under discussion at the meeting.... Under the 


circumstances it was necessary for the party speaker to 
bring the confusion created by Zack to an end. To do so 
in a public speech, and subsequendy to publish extracts 
of the speech in the New Militant, was the best means for 
this public clarification. There was nothing abnormal or 
unprecedented in this procedure. It was the right and 
more than that, the duty of the party to make its position 
clear. The only criticism in order is the neglect to do so 
earlier. The assertion that the speech of Comrade Cannon 
was an "outrageous" and "provocative attack on a party 
member" is sheer nonsense. 

Muste not only signed this statement and sent it out, 
but helped to edit it! But this does not prevent him from 
continuing to repeat all kinds of "sheer nonsense" — as he 
called it on June 4 — about the Zack affair every time he 
has occasion to talk about it. As to other aspects of the 
Muste political line and organizational methods follow- 
ing his abrupt rupture of the collaboration with us, more 
will be said later. Suffice it here to point out, in conclu- 
sion, that at no time between his return from Ohio and 
the opening of the June Plenum did Muste, either by 
mail, in formal meeting, or in informal discussions, have 
one single word of criticism to make of the line we had 
pursued in the PC towards the violations of discipline of 
Zack, Oehler, Stamm and Basky. While, on the eve of the 
plenum, he expressed himself in private conference with 
us at Cannon's home against any expulsion of Oehler & 
Co. at the plenum, he nevertheless agreed that some dis- 
ciplinary action would have to be taken, and never for a 
single moment intimated that he considered Cannon's 
public speech a "monstrous provocation" or that it was 
connected with the "SP orientation." On the contrary, 
he signed his name and gave approval to the whole line 
of the PC statement on the situation sent out to the 
branches on June 4. These are facts, which are, as is com- 
monly known, very stubborn things. 

But didn't Cannon and Shachtman nevertheless pro- 
pose the expulsion of Oehler-Basky- Stamm in June? 
Triumphantly, Lore asked that the following be noted 
in the minutes of the June Plenum: "In the course of 
the Muste report, when Muste remarked 'you can't 
expel Oehler, Stamm and Basky, etc., now anyway,' 
Shachtman replied: 'Because you won't vote with us'." 
Quite right! The flagrant defiance of elementary party 
discipline by the sectarian trinity, their irresponsible 
disruptiveness, showed us that they had become a hope- 
less cancer that had to be eradicated from the party. We 
were prepared to take final and drastic measures on the 
assumption that the party, in its vast majority, was 
equally prepared. We were justified in this assumption 
by the fact that all the Musteite leaders, Muste 
included, had signified their intention to go through 
with the action we proposed. Together, we represented 
90 percent of the party. 

When it became evident that Muste was unloading 
responsibility, when he finally demurred at the proposal 
for drastic measures against the splitters, we concluded: 
An important part of the party and its leadership either 
fails or refuses to see eye to eye with us in this question. 
They are apparendy not yet convinced of the correctness 
of our proposal, or of the acute danger represented by the 
Oehlerites. The party must therefore pay a heavy price 
for their blindness by spending invaluable time in edu- 
cating these vacillating timid leaders to the fact that a 
cancer must not be temporized with and that the Oehler- 
ites represent a cancer. We shall therefore also be com- 
pelled to pay the Oehlerite blackmailers, and leave them 
run rampant through the party for another period, until 
we have argued the matter out with Muste and Weber 
and their followers and convinced them of the incompat- 
ibility of Oehlerism with party membership. That is why 
we did not press for the expulsion of the Oehlerites at the 
June Plenum, but merely for another warning, another 
censure; that is how we lost three precious months, 
between June and October, until, at the latter date, 
Muste- Weber reluctandy agreed to our original propo- 
sal for action against the Oehlerites. 

But didn't Cannon and Shachtman oppose any dis- 
cussion in the ranks? Didn't they try to expel Oehler 
without a preliminary political discussion? And didn't 
Weber and Muste fight for months for such a discus- 
sion and finally force one, thus saving the party? This 
legend, too, it would be well to dispel, not merely 
because it represents another Muste- Weberite plagia- 
rism from Oehler, but because it isn't true. 

A good half of the Weberite platform against us, and 
Muste's as well, is based on this legend and its counter- 
part, namely, that they were for a discussion. It wasn't 
that Weber had any political differences with us over esti- 
mating the Oehler danger, but he and Muste opposed 
our "organizational" methods in liquidating Oehlerism. 
"The Cannon group," writes the ineffable Glotzer in his 
November 20, 1935, letter to the I.S., "proceeded on the 
notion that it could solve the problem of the Oehler 
group without a necessary and thoroughgoing political 
discussion with the aim of the complete clarification of 
the party organization.... Such a course would not and 
could not have clarified the political differences, would 
have (as was indicated at the June Plenum) alienated the 
Musteites, and permitted the exit of the Oehler group 
with about 200 followers (the support he claimed prior 
to the discussion in the party)." 

And further, concerning the Weberite position at the 
June Plenum on the question of the French turn and 
the Oehler group: 

Our group took one step further than Cannon. We 
foresaw that the party would have to concern itself with 


the issues in dispute, that it would be necessary for it to 
discuss the French turn, the other international questions, 
the issue of the Fourth International, in order to put an 
end to the agitation of the Oehlerites and to render a 
decisive political defeat to that group. While supporting 
the Cannon resolution, we introduced a supplementary 
statement (signed by Weber, Satir and Glotzer) which 
dealt specifically with the French turn and called for its 
support by the party (more evidence of an anti-ICL posi- 
tion!!!). In presenting this statement we declared it our 
intention to begin the discussion on the political differ- 
ences existing on the international questions and the aim 
to win the party to the support of the ICL.... We 
declared it necessary for the party to record itself on the 
disputed question and... we declared it necessary for the 
party to support the ICL and the French turn, and pro- 
ceeded to oudine the reasons why. 
In these two excerpts from Glotzer 's letter, we quote 
seven sentences in all. Every single one of these seven 
sentences is a falsehood, both from the political and the 
factual standpoint. We take them one by one: 

1. At least nine-tenths of the political and educa- 
tional discussion arranged in the party was upon our 
initiative — not Glotzer's or Weber's or Muste's. In New 
York, where we are supposed to have put into effect the 
"no discussion policy," a general membership discus- 
sion meeting was held at least once a month from the 
inception of the party. On January 20 there was a dis- 
cussion of the trade-union question; one week later, 
January 26, a general trade- union conference took 
place. Two weeks later, February 12, a general member- 
ship meeting took place to hear Muste report on the 
state of the party and to discuss the report. Two weeks 
after that, February 24, a general membership meeting 
to discuss the situation in the Soviet Union. Two weeks 
later, another general membership meeting was held on 
March 10 to discuss the Pittsburgh Plenum and Active 
Workers' Conference agenda. In addition, several meet- 
ings of branch functionaries (we now quote the district 
organizer's official report) "were held for discussion of 
concrete tasks before the party, special conferences of 
unemployed members of the party were held for discus- 
sion of party unemployed work, as well as meetings 
with branch organizations and with branch organizers, 
together with financial secretaries, etc." 

At the Pittsburgh Plenum, Cannon and Shachtman 
proposed a series of discussion meetings in New York 
especially, to take up a whole series of questions really or 
allegedly in dispute. Such meetings were not only held 
but the minority of the NC was given the right to present 
publicly its oppositional viewpoint — a procedure not at 
all normal in a democratically centralized party when it 
is not in a pre-convention period. On April 8 the PC 
brought the post- Pittsburgh Plenum discussion to a close 
with this motion: "We consider the general discussion of 

the Pittsburgh Plenum, as instructed by the plenum, 
now concluded. This does not preclude further discus- 
sions on specific questions not finally decided by the ple- 
num." To this motion there was no objection from 
Oehler and Stamm or from Weber and Gould, all four 
of whom were present! At the June Plenum, it was Can- 
non and Shachtman who made the proposal for inaugu- 
rating a series of discussions throughout the party, and 
just as, at Pittsburgh, we had made the proposal to estab- 
lish an international information and discussion bulletin 
for our membership, in June we made the proposal for 
the discussion bulletin on our own internal disputes. 

In New York, controlled by our group, we arranged 
a solid month of discussion meetings in the most dem- 
ocratic manner ever seen in the movement. Every 
group, big or small, was given exacdy the same amount 
of time in which to present, to discuss and to summar- 
ize its point of view. Four general membership meetings 
were held on four Sundays running — one on the inter- 
national question, one on the SP-CP, one on the inter- 
nal question, one on the district report — at which each 
side gave its full presentation, and each Sunday meeting 
was followed by the Tuesday branch meeting at which 
the discussion and summary on each point took place. 
Each group had its documents in the hands of every 
single member — official plenum resolutions as well as 
caucus material by the pound, openly circulated by the 
Oehlerites, surreptitiously (of course!) by the Weberites. 
Let Satir and Glotzer, who have been running the Chi- 
cago organization for a year (right into the ground), 
show a discussion record that is one-tenth as substantial 
as this one! 

2. Glotzer "saved" half of Oehler's supporters for 
the party so that when he pulled out, he took along 
only about 100. Oehler never had 200 supporters, and 
Glotzer knows it! He has to give this fantastic figure only 
in order to find some shamefaced excuse ("100 saved"!) 
for his criminal conduct in helping keep the party in 
totally needless turmoil for three invaluable months, dur- 
ing which we convinced... not the hopeless Oehlerites, 
but the Muste- Weber combination. The facts are: in the 
CIA, Oehler had about 40 or more supporters in New 
York; at the membership meeting of April 7 Oehler got 
56 votes; in the New York district convention voting, 
Oehler got 61 votes; he took out of the party, finally, 
some 50 members in New York. In Philadelphia, he took 
no more than he always had, as far back as the CIA and 
throughout the WP Ditto in every other branch, with 
one or two exceptions one way or the other (in Pitts- 
burgh, his adherents date from the Pittsburgh Plenum; 
in Chicago, the Weber citadel, his adherents increased in 
number since the June Plenum!). 

In other words, this sectarian faction was of such an 


ossified character that, with a handful of exceptions, dis- 
cussion alone could not break them up. Sometimes, as 
Trotsky says, you have "to yield the floor to time" — to 
time, to events, to experience; at least that is what even 
our greatest leaders have often had to do. So you didn't 
win any Oehlerites? Yes, the only group in the party that 
won anybody from the Oehlerites was our group (New 
York). And the only group in the party that Oehler won 
anybody from was the Weber group, and right in the 
bailiwick of the same Glotzer we are here refuting (Chi- 
cago, where almost a third of the membership came right 
out of the Weber camp and into Oehler's!). 

3. "Our group took one step further than Cannon." 
Not true! It did not even go as far as Cannon. Our 
international resolution for solidarity with the ICL, for 
the Open Letter, against the anti-Trotskyist Oehlerites, 
was defended by us alone in the membership. At the 
Sunday meetings in New York, whenever Weber could 
find some difference with us, he availed himself of the 
opportunity offered each group to present its point of 
view and, at the three last meetings, he slashed away at 
us for all he was worth. On the one question where he 
declared that he agreed with us and disagreed with 
Muste and Oehler, on the international question, and 
where his "group took one step further than Cannon," 
Weber did not avail himself of the opportunity to 
speak! He was asked to do so by Shachtman, who was 
told that "you represent our viewpoint." Weber did not 
speak for our resolution in the membership meeting, 
and he did not even speak for his "step further." He 
wasn't a step ahead, but a step behind. When he could 
attack us, he jumped at the chance; when he could 
defend us, he remained silent. 

4. 5. 6. 7. The statement of Weber & Co. on the 
French turn was not presented as a basis for discussion 
in the party so that the Oehler group could be given a 
"decisive political defeat" (to defeat Oehler, politically or 
otherwise, was the last thought in the Weberite mind!). 
Shachtman asked Glotzer at the June Plenum if the state- 
ment were being presented as a resolution to endorse 
the French turn, to be voted for or against by the ple- 
num. Glotzer answered no. The minutes actually read: 
"Glotzer stated that on the international question he and 
others would submit a statement but not a resolution." 
Nor was the statement ever put to a vote at the plenum! 
Nor was the statement ever put to a vote in the discus- 
sion that followed the plenum! Nor did the Weberites 
ever put the statement forward in the branches for dis- 
cussion! Nor did they ever rise in the discussion to defend 
it or its contents. They left the defense of the French 
comrades from rabid Oehlerite attacks to our support- 
ers; they busied themselves with buttressing Oehler & 
Co. by their attacks on our "organizational methods." 

What Glotzer says about their declarations in June 
that the party must take a position "for the French turn" 
is simply ridiculous and shows that the man doesn't 
know — or else forgets — what he votes for half the time. 
Because he and his faction voted for our international 
resolution which, with the acceptable and accepted West 
amendment "No. 5," said: "The Workers Party is not at 
present obligated to take a position on the correctness of 
this tactic," i.e., the tactic of the French turn. The Weber- 
ites neither expected nor proposed a discussion of the 
French turn. Their "statement" was handed in primarily 
for the purpose of "distinguishing" themselves from us 
and secondarily in an attempt to squirm out of their old 
position on "organic unity." For that matter, neither did 
we show anxiety to discuss whether or not our French 
comrades should have entered the SFIO back in Octo- 
ber 1934, not because we "feared" such a discussion, but 
because we had no particular desire to discuss what 
Trotsky, in a recent letter to the Belgian Vereecken, prop- 
erly calls the "snows of yesteryear." Such discussions are 
relished precisely by sectarians; for us it was sufficient to 
declare that the entry was a tactical step, that our com- 
rades had conducted themselves flawlessly from a revo- 
lutionary standpoint, that it was essential for our party 
to collaborate with them internationally, that it was just 
as essential for our party to smash the Oehlerite slander- 
ers of our French comrades. And that is precisely what 
our June "international resolution" did declare, and why 
we also adopted the West amendment. 

One final word about "discussions" and "expul- 
sions." The mealy-mouthed hypocrisy of the Weberites 
is all the more repellent in face of two more facts: 

1. At no time, not before the Pittsburgh Plenum, at 
it, after it, at the June Plenum, or at any other time, did 
Weber, Satir, Glotzer or Gould ever make one single, sol- 
itary motion or proposal for a discussion of any question. 
At no time! In fact, the only proposal Glotzer ever made 
on his own initiative in the whole period of the party's 
existence was contained in a letter to the PC proposing 
that we send a message of greetings to the newly-formed 
Dutch party. The other members of the Weberite quar- 
tet on the NC did not even make a proposal as valuable 
as that. 

2. There was one group that had an a priori expulsion 
policy towards Oehler & Co., a policy of expulsion of 
Oehler even if he did not commit a single overt or for 
that matter covert act of indiscipline. Not our group, but 
Weberl As far back as October 26, 1934, before the 
fusion, when Oehler would not dream of violating dis- 
cipline (he had no Muste to give him protection!) and 
when, with all his sharp differences, his collaboration in 
League work was active and loyal, Weber wrote a letter 
to Glotzer which lack of space prevents us from printing 


in full as an example of political depravity and unprin- 
cipled clique machinations, but from which we quote the 
following eloquent passages: 

Oehler plays the game of Naville. He has retreated from 
his outright opposition to fusion and is now engaged in 
trying to capitalize on the sentiment in the League 
directed against the NC. Even if he joins the new parry — 
and he may split, particularly since the arrival of a Ger- 
man intrigant, sent by Bauer & Co. from abroad to but- 
tonhole comrades and instill into their minds a lot of 
poisonous slander in order to build a Fifth International 
with the SA.P. & the London Bureau (finally) — he will 
join just as does Naville, for the purpose of causing trou- 
ble at the first opportunity and bringing about a split, 
which is Max's (Shachtman's) view of what we ought to 
do in France!... It would be better in my opinion to 
slough off the elements around Oehler before joining 
(with the AWP — MS) and we might maneuver to force 
his hand. (My emphasis — MS) 

This letter not only reveals who proposed (and 
whenl) the expulsion of Oehler by a "maneuver," when 
he was guilty of nothing but a political difference of 
opinion; not only throws light on the fraudulent line of 
the Weberites in the WP who cried that "both Oehler 
and Cannon" want to split, when they knew long in 
advance that Oehler would "cause trouble at the first 
opportunity and bring about a split"; but lays bare the 
whole revolting unprincipledness of this wretched 
Weber clique. We shall refer to the letter again! 

To listen to the protestations of the Weberites, for the 
last few months, that is, one could only conclude that, 
so far as Oehlerism is concerned, they never had any 
political differences with us; their political evaluation of 
the nature and course, of the danger presented by Oehler 
& Co., their judgement of the Oehlerites as a reaction- 
ary, sectarian, anti-Trotskyist, basically unassimilable cur- 
rent, was the same as ours. Where they were superior to 
us, however, was in their criticism of our "organizational 
methods" and the putting forward of their own methods, 
by which they succeeded in cutting the Oehlerite 
strength in half. With the air of a man repeating an anal- 
ysis that has been a commonplace to all for a long time, 
Glotzer says in his recent letter to the I.S., which was first 
sent out as a caucus letter and reprinted by the expelled 
Oehlerites before ever we saw it in the PC: 

The party prior to the June Plenum had experienced a 
heated internal dispute with the Oehler group. The polit- 
ical motives behind this dispute lay in Oehler's persistent 
opposition to the French turn, and its international 
aspects. His group endeavored, in spite of the fact that the 
party had only just become organized and had not entered 
into a discussion period, to organize the parry against the 
views of LD, the ICL and the French organization. 

What is true is true; what is indisputable is indisput- 
able. And you would think, from the offhand manner in 
which Glotzer writes this, that he not only always had 
this opinion, but that he acted accordingly. If this was the 
analysis of Oehler that Glotzer's group always had, then 
they must have estimated him as we all estimated his 
international associates, Bauet & Co.: as a sterile, reac- 
tionary current, specializing in anti-Trotskyism and 
working, by the very logic of their whole political line, 
to split the genuine movement for the Fourth Interna- 
tional, and consequendy representing the acutest danger 
to our movement. But the whole trouble with the 
Weberite line was that, although this is how they write 
at the end of the year 1935, they had an opposite and 
consequendy a false estimate for the whole first part of 
the year, i.e., during the time it was necessary to fight the 
Oehlerite menace inside the party, not to philosophize 
about it after they were on the outside. 

Our indictment of the Weberites includes this count: 
Their differences with us over Oehlerism did not lie in 
objections to our "organizational methods" but in an 
opposite political judgment of the Oehlerites. In other 
words, they had political differences with us as to Oeh- 
lerism, differences which caused them to shield the 
Oehlerites from our blows, differences which they cra- 
venly hid under their abusive philippics against our 
"organizational methods." In this whole situation is con- 
tained an important lesson. The Weberite argumentation 
and method are not new, but age has not given them 
standing in our movement. We have met them before 
and we were taught by the Marxist leaders how to deal 
with them; that is why we were and are so intransigent 
against these politicians. 

In a letter written on June 5, 1931, directed against 
the unprincipled Austrian cliquists like Frey and Lan- 
dau, Comrade Trotsky said: 

F, L., and to a high degree N., are creating a new polit- 
ical legitimation for themselves of exceptional profundity. 
In politics, they are in agreement wirh Trotsky, but his 
organizational methods are false (as we see, even the 
words of the Weberite music are old! — MS). Not one of 
them has up to now taken the trouble to put down on 
paper, clearly and plainly, just what he actually means by 
"organizational methods." The people named, as well as 
many others, always begin to complain about organiza- 
tional methods just at the moment when it proves to be 
necessary to subject them to political criticism.... Frey 
broke with us because he is no revolutionary internation- 
alist. But he hides behind an organizational "comma" 
because it is not to his advantage to explain the essence of 
his break with us.... Completely aping his precursor Frey, 
Landau complains about organizational methods.... He 
cannot (that is, he does not yet need to, today) manu- 
facture principled disagreements with the Russian Oppo- 
sition, as he tried to manufacture disagreements with 


Leipzig on the Russian question. What remains for him? 
An otganizational "comma." The unprincipled and 
thoroughly intriguish attempt of Landau to unite with 
the Prometeo group against the Russian Opposition most 
wretchedly discredits him. The Prometeo group is an 
ideological, serious and in its way very principled group, 
and in this respect represents the complete opposite of 
Landau. This group has never declared its solidarity with 
the Russian Opposition. Precisely during the last year it 
has been shown that the disagreements between this 
group and us are not only very great, but are systemati- 
cally growing Now what does Landau do? He 

attempts to conclude a bloc with the Bordigists against 
the fundamental kernel of the International Opposition. 
Perhaps because he agrees with the Bordigists in the ques- 
tion of democracy? Oh, no, that isn't what Landau's 
thinking about. He is concerned with the purification of 
Trotsky's organizational methods and therefore needs 
allies. The whole thing is explainable by the "organiza- 
tional" requirements of Landau. To be sure, Landau says: 
"We have serious differences with the Bordigists, but..." 
etc., etc. But after all that's the song of all the opportun- 
ists and adventurers: "Disagreements should not prevent 
joint work." It would be good to ask one of these sages to 
explain the reciprocal relationships between politics and 
organization, upon the counterposing of which all of 
them, under Frey's leadership, build their own "politics" 
and their own "organization." Nobody wrote with such 
grandiloquent pathos about the "organizing of the Octo- 
ber revolution" and the "organizing of the Red Army" as 
did Landau. It would be interesting to ask him how he 
conceives of organization in this case. As pure politics, ot 
as organizational technique free of politics, or as such a 
union of the two in which organization represents the 
means of politics? The counterposing which Landau 
undertakes results from this, that for him, as clique 
leader, organizational methods have a completely inde- 
pendent, yes, arbitrary character. To whisper something 
to one, to trip up someone else, to set intrigues afoot 
against a third, to wheedle his way into the graces of a 
group of insufficiently critical workers, to tickle their 
prejudices — these otganizational methods have nothing 
in common with politics, at least not with Marxian poli- 
tics. Yet the task lies precisely in purging our ranks of 
these poisonous and decomposing methods. 

If these words are not a photograph of Weberism, 
they are at least a pretty faithful sketch! Now let us see 
what political position was hidden behind the "organi- 
zational comma" of Cannon and Shachtman which was 
the "only thing" the Weberites objected to. Remember 
that our political analysis of the Oehlerites, from the 
very beginning, was that they represented a factional, 
sectarian tendency, reactionary and sterile. In the WP, 
we made this statement as early as the Pittsburgh Ple- 
num, and in more amplified form ever since. 

And the Weberites? In his statement to the Pitts- 
burgh Plenum on why he would not vote for the 
motion designating the Oehlerites as sectarian and the 

main danger to the party, Satir wrote: 

I cannot, however, agree with that section of the 
motion which flows out of Comrades Cannon's and 
Shachtman's speeches and which characterizes Comrade 
Oehler and his co-thinkers as full-blown and hardened 
sectarians — especially so since the criterion here seems 
to be Oehler's insistence on committing the party to a 
position on this or that political question.... I particu- 
larly disagree with the argument that the main danger at 
this time is from the direction of Oehler. ... In the pre- 
vious sessions of the NC it was not established that 
Oehler's position is fundamentally different than that of 
the NC. For that reason the branding of Oehler as an 
arch-sectarian and the concentration of all the fire against 
his line is obviously uncalled for. 

Glotzer handed in a similar statement! Gould, in his 
statement, wrote: 

In agreement with that section of the (NC) resolution 
which condemns the factional attitude of Oehler and his 
followers. I do not subscribe (for similar reasons given in the 
statements of Glotzer and Satir) with the section of the NC res- 
olution which characterizes Oehler as having a sectarian 

Even a month later, on April 7, 1935, Weber, in a 
statement on the results of the Pittsburgh Plenum, wrote: 

We consider as unwarranted and premature the 
attempt to condemn the Oehler group as a hard and fast 
sectarian faction, since no major differences between this 
grouping and the NC have been presented to clinch any 
argument arising in connection with such condemnation. 
We are unwilling to lend ourselves to an undue sharp- 
ening of differences but prefer to alleviate the situation. 
We are unwilling to label and condemn this grouping 
since this may help lay the basis for future organizational 

Now, regardless of whether or not we had presented 
sufficiently "clinching arguments" to prove our charge of 
sectarianism, the fact is that all the Weberites knew, or 
should have known, from the CLA onward, that the 
Oehlerites */a/ represent a thoroughly sectarian line, that 
if it had not yet manifested itself in the WP in the form 
of their French turn position, then it had appeared quite 
clearly in the Oehlerite attempt to disrupt the fusion. But 
the factional interests of the Weberites carried the day; 
as always, they drew their political line from their organ- 
izational (factional) requirements. They saw the prospect 
of a fight against Cannon, with the Oehlerites as a use- 
ful counterbalance (and who knows? perhaps also an ally 
in another bloc?), and that is why they refused to char- 
acterize Oehler politically as he should have been! They 
wouldn't accept our characterization, and put forward 
none of their own. At the April 7, 1 935, New York post- 
Pittsburgh membership meeting, the majority of those 
present voted for the NC motion; the Oehlerites voted 
for their own oppositional motion; all the Weberites 


(Weber, Gould, Abern, Sterling, Ray, Weaver, Milton, 
Engel) abstained demonstratively en bloc, without pre- 
senting a resolution of their own (a typical piece of 
Weberite cowardice)! 

At no time did we receive a single ounce of support 
from the Weberites in the fight against Oehlerism, 
until, after the October Plenum, when the Oehlerites 
walked out of the party, the Weberites joined with us to 
record the fact and formally expel them. At no time did 
the Weberites take the initiative in the struggle against 
Oehlerism. If they did intervene, it was for the purpose 
of sabotaging the fight, of protecting and shielding this 
reactionary clique of neo-Weisbordites, of protesting 
against calling the Oehlerites "sectarian," protesting the 
expulsion of Zack, protesting the expulsion of Oehler, 
denying that there were serious differences in the 
party — in other words, acting the role of shield-bearers 
for the Oehlerites. 

When Zack was expelled, the first reaction of the 
Weberites was to attack the. . .PC. On May 24, Satir and 
Glotzer, prompted by Oehler who was in Chicago, tele- 
graphed the PC their "alarm" over the Zack expulsion 
and the charges against Stamm and Basky. Under their 
leadership, the Chicago branch adopted a protest 
against the PC. Did these two statesmen bother to 
inquire first of the PC for its reasons for expelling Zack, 
for the circumstances surrounding the case? Not for a 
minute! Did these two NC members, in face of repeated 
PC regulations, defend the PC before the Chicago mem- 
bership, as was their elementary duty, or at least advise 
the membership to wait until the PC had an opportunity 
to present its information and position? Not for a min- 
ute! Oehler's word was good enough for them to act 
upon; besides, here was another chance to get in a blow 
against Cannon. The Berkeley branch, controlled by the 
Weberites, voted, according to the PC records of June 10, 
that it is "irrevocably (!) opposed to the expulsion of Zack 
and demands his reinstatement." Another Weberite 
branch, Akron, decided in favor of "protesting against 
Cannon's attack on Zack at open forum" and "request- 
ing NC to reconsider its actions on the Zack expulsion." 

That is how the Weberites fought our "organiza- 
tional methods": always by giving aid and comfort to 
the Oehlerites every time they should have given them 
blows, or else been polite enough to get out of our way 
so that we might deliver them ourselves. When the 
Oehlerites complained about our "organizational meth- 
ods," we understood what they were talking about. 
Thus, in his PC statement of August 5, 1935, Stamm 
wrote that our "policy of factionally monopolizing the 
press is precisely the policy used by the capitulators of 
Charleroi against the comrades who opposed them. It 
is characteristic of the brutal, bureaucratic methods 

employed throughout the ICL by those who support and 
apply the new orientation." The Oehlerites were fight- 
ing against the line and the methods of the ICL and 
Comrade Trotsky; consequently, they fought our line 
and methods, which were indistinguishable from the 
ICL's. But the Weberites? They fished in troubled 

At the June Plenum, and after, the Weberites devel- 
oped a new political line: The Oehlerites are a danger; 
the Cannonites are just as much a danger. We will fight 
both of them with the same vigor because they both 
stand on the same plane — they both want a split. "The 
speech of Comrade Cannon," said Glotzer-Satir in 
their plenum statement, "indicates to us his desire for 
such a split, and the statement introduced by the Can- 
non group is a further confirmation of this. Likewise, 
the speeches and threats of the Oehler group also (!) 
drive unmistakably to a split." (It is true that in this 
statement, Glotzer and Satir advanced as compared 
with Pittsburgh; they actually labelled the Oehlerites 
"sectarians." Dear, dear! But then, they advanced also 
with regard to us; they labelled the fighters against the 
anti-Trotskyist crew as "splitters"... and to show their 
complete objectivity, they labelled the anti-Trotskyists 
the same way.) 

More than a month later, Gould declared at a New 
York membership meeting (speech of July 27, sent out 
as a caucus document): 

The present party condition is a product of the meth- 
ods and attitudes of the two groups (the Cannonites and 
the Oehlerites) both of whom had pursued these meth- 
ods in the CLA and who entered the party with skepti- 
cism.... Both set to work to liquidate the other. The 
fight, the factionalism, the animosity that now threatens 
the existence of the party, is the product of the conscious 
workings of these two caucuses.... Our group stands 
today firm against the false line of Oehler, stands today 
against the false line of Cannon. We stand opposed to 
their methods. We stand opposed to their line.... We will 
fight until we defeat both of you politically and we prom- 
ise to accomplish this aim. 
Not badly put, eh? and certainly not timidly put; but 
like most Weberite promises, not worth the paper it's 
written on. 

And the fourth sermon-monger of the Weberites, 
Weber himself, wrote in his post-June Plenum state- 
ment on the SP-CP question (also sent out as a caucus 
document): "The orientation of building up the party 
should mean first of all the consolidation of all our 
forces internally, which means establishing peace. There 
is every political basis for this despite the embittered 
feelings that are all that is left in the way of peace." 

Not political, irreconcilable political differences, 
stand in the way of "peace," explained our own Father 


Divine, but only "embittered feelings"! We said: consol- 
idate the loyal party forces by uniting in a fight against 
the main danger to the party and the international 
movement, Oehlerism. That was our political line. The 
Weberite line was: Oehler's line and methods aren't so 
good; Cannon's line and methods are just as bad; we 
will fight them both in the same way and on the same 
plane; meantime, boys, don't feel bitter about it — let 
there be peace on earth and good will to all men. 

In actuality, of course, they didn't even follow this line. 
Nine-tenths of their attacks — and this holds true also of 
Muste — were directed at us. They collaborated with 
Muste and Oehler, but not with us (for example, the 
Musteite proposals for "solving" the internal situation at 
the June Plenum were drawn up after joint consultation 
with Oehler and Weber, but not with us; they were voted 
for by Muste-Oehler- Weber, who all voted against us). 
Read, for example, Gould's speech on July 27: one par- 
agraph or two against Oehler, the balance of the speech 
against Cannon and Shachtman. Read, for example, 
Weber's statement on the SP-CP: one paragraph of crit- 
icism of the Oehler position, one paragraph of criticism 
of the Muste position, the entire balance directed at us. 
Recall, for example, the four post-June New York mem- 
bership meetings: on the international question, where 
Weber agreed with us, and opposed Oehler and Muste, 
he did not take the floor for us and against them; where 
he disagreed, he or Gould took the floor three times to 
deliver the bulk of their speeches against us. 

These are the reasons why we fought the Weber polit- 
ical \ine on the internal situation with such vigor, as well 
as the methods they used in pursuing this line. Let us 
assume for a moment that in the fight against the reac- 
tionary Oehlerites, we displayed such an intense anxiety 
to protect the party from their pernicious influence that 
we sometimes went beyond the limits of the situation, 
the limits of the development of the party members' (and 
leaders') clarity about the situation, and that we therefore 
proposed correct steps prematurely. We are even ready to 
discuss, honesdy and objectively, this assumption, to the 
extent that it is worth discussing at this date. But even 
in such a case, the duty of the wiser Weberites would 
have been to call attention merely to our over-anxiety to 
shield the party, to say to us: We agree entirely with your 
estimate of this danger; but before acting as you propose, 
it is necessary to convince the comrades who are not yet 
sure of your proposals; what is more, we will join with 
you and side by side, unitedly, we will win the over- 
whelming majority of the party to our view, isolate the 
Oehlerite clanger and smash it. But instead of saying this, 
the Weberites said: Oehler? Cannon? Same thing! 

How did Trotsky judge the situation? In his letter 
to our party on August 12 (in Muste's article for the 

January 10, 1936, Internal Bulletin, he quotes a couple 
of sentences from this letter, but omits the decisive sen- 
tences which precede and follow his quotation; by com- 
parison, the reader will see that Muste has another dis- 
tressing habit: of beginning and ending quotations only 
at those points where they are least — how shall we say? — 
inconvenient and embarrassing to him), Trotsky wrote: 
Comrades Weber and Glotzer accuse the Cannon group 
of proceeding too rudely and bureaucratically against 
Oehler. I cannot express an opinion on this charge since I 
have not had the opportunity to follow the development 
of the struggle. Hypothetically (this emphasis is Trotsky's; 
all the rest are mine — MS) I can accept the possibility of a 
certain hastiness on the part of the leading comrades. It 
would naturally be a mistake to desire to liquidate organ- 
izationally an opposition group before the overwhelming 
majority of the party has had the chance to understand to 
the full the inconsistency and sterility of that group. Lead- 
ers are often impatient in seeking to remove an obstacle in 
the path of the party's activity. In such cases, the party can 
and must correct the precipitateness of the leaders, since it 
is not only the leaders who educate the party but the party 
as well which educates the leaders. Herein lies the salutary 
dialectic of democratic centralism. 

But Comrades Weber and Glotzer are decidedly wrong 
when they place on the same plane the "mistakes" of 
Oehler and the "mistakes" of Cannon. Sectarianism is a 
cancer which threatens the activity of the Workers Party, 
which paralyzes it, envenoms discussions and prevents 
courageous steps forward in the life of the workers' organ- 
izations. I should like to hope that a surgical operation 
will not be necessary — but precisely in order to avoid 
expulsions, it is necessary to strike pitilessly at the Oehler 
group by a decision of an overwhelming majority. This is 
the preliminary condition of all possible future successes 
for the WP. We all desire that it remain independent, but 
before all and above all, independent of the cancer which 
is eating at its vitals. 

(Muste omits from his quotation the first 3 sentences, 
prints the next one, omits the fifth sentence, prints the 
sixth and seventh, and omits the balance. A most fasci- 
nating quoter is Muste!) 

To paraphrase Trotsky, the Weberites (and the Muste- 
ites who kept begging Oehler to join with them in a 
"loyal struggle" against "Cannon's methods"!) are polit- 
ically incapable of distinguishing between a broom and 
the obstacle which it sweeps aside; at best, all they can 
see is a cloud of dust. The Weberites are politically inca- 
pable of distinguishing between a surgeon and a cancer 
he is operating on; all they hear is somebody crying out 
and blood flowing — whereupon they curse both surgeon 
and cancer and call for peace and bandages. In politics, 
this inability to distinguish is a fatal disqualification; 
when this inability is manifested not by honest but con- 
fused militants but by presumably politically mature per- 
sons who render themselves blind by letting personal 


antipathies and clique interests determine their course, 
it is criminal. 

What, it will be asked, are the considerations that 
actuate the Weber clique, which, politically speaking, 
isn't worth a nickel? The answer to that is contained in 
an exposition, based as before on documents, of the ori- 
gin of the Weber faction, which, if not entertaining, is 
at least instructive. 

The Origin of the Weber Group 

The origin of the Weber group, like its political posi- 
tion in general, is shrouded in that obscurity and mys- 
tification which are characteristic of cliques that oper- 
ate in the dark, shamefacedly, without banner unfurled, 
without candidness, without principled platform. Of 
the five recorded official statements on the origin of the 
faction made by various representatives of it — five 
recorded statements are all I have been able to gather to 
date — not one of them jibes with the other. And that, 
as we shall see, is not hard to understand, because all of 
them are untrue. 

The minutes of the CLA convention read, after 
recording the statements of Oehler and Cannon 
announcing the dissolution of their respective factions, 
as follows: "Weber announced that he had no caucus 
prior to the convention, dissolves the Weber caucus and 
pledges loyal collaboration with other members of the 
new party." Statement I, therefore, is that while the fac- 
tion was, by divine power of attraction of similars, con- 
stituted right at the convention, none had existed up to 
that time. 

The same minutes record the following indignant 
statement made by the other Weberite delegate from 
New York, the noted activist and statesman, Sterling: "I 
wish to protest vigorously the statement of Shachtman 
that I was or am (!) in any kind of a faction with Com- 
rade Weber ever since the breakup of the so-called 
Shachtman faction. I consider that this statement of 
Shachtman is maliciously intended to create the impres- 
sion that such a faction did exist for the purpose of an 
unprincipled struggle against the NC." Statement II, 
therefore, is that, contrary to Weber's assertion, there was 
no Weber faction even at the CLA convention — Sterling 
denied that he either "was or am" in one, or that it ever 

In his November 20, 1935, letter to the I.S. of the 
ICL, Glotzer explained: "The Cannon letter declared 
falsely that the Weber group formed a sort of opposi- 
tion to the fusion. The Weber group constituted itself 
only immediately before the CLA convention (Novem- 
ber 1934) and at the convention." Statement III, there- 
fore, is that the faction, contrary to both Weber and the 
vigorously protestant Sterling, did exist and was organ- 

ized (on what platform? Stupid question!) before the 
CLA convention. 

In his letter to the I.S., dated December 29, 1935, 
Weber writes that "we" felt "that it had become necessary 
after March to open up the discussion on the French turn 
so as to bring about ideological clarification. There was 
everything to gain by achieving political understanding 
first, and everything to lose by resorting only to organi- 
zational measures. This position we made perfecdy clear 
in a statement to the New York district after the March 
Plenum." Statement IV, therefore, is that in the WP, the 
Weber faction was formed only after the March Plenum 
(Pittsburgh) when "we" had a "position" which "we made 
perfectly clear." 

But in his speech to the New York party membership 
on July 27, 1935, later sent out as a caucus document, 
Gould, in his unterrified bid for leadership, declared: 
"We, and we alone, are the only group that can come 
before the party at this juncture and honesdy place 
before the membership for examination the history of 
the work, the attitude and the work of the Weber group: 
as the group that foresaw (!) and exposed (!!) the trick- 
ery of Cannon at the Pittsburgh Plenum." To foresee, 
one must exist before the event foreseen. Statement V, 
therefore, is that the Weber group not only existed, 
but also foresaw things and exposed them before the 
March Plenum. 

Now, as previously indicated, none of these state- 
ments on the origin of the Weber faction corresponds 
to the truth. The fact is that it was established under the 
auspices of Weber and Abern (the same Abern whom 
this same Weber once proposed to Shachtman to run 
out of the movement because he was a menace to it! 
and to run him out for anything but political rea- 
sons...) almost exactly two years ago — established 
essentially by do-nothing grumblers, impotent malcon- 
tents, retired tent-sulkers and the like, and based upon 
gnawing personal antipathies and anticipated but non- 
existing differences of opinion. 

The CLA was essentially a propaganda group which, 
for a whole series of historical circumstances chiefly 
beyond its control, had to suffer all the maladies of a 
circle, a sect. All its progressive features combined — 
and they were many — were not strong enough to elim- 
inate entirely these maladies, brought on basically by its 
enforced isolation from the health-giving flow of the 
broad class struggle. Just as it would be philistinism to 
ignore the great contributions to the revolutionary 
movement which even this small propaganda group was 
able to make and did make, so it would be gross senti- 
mentalism and misplaced patriotism to ignore the neg- 
ative aspects of its existence. Among these negative 
aspects are tendencies to routine conservatism; to 


personal frictions which become exaggerated beyond all 
proportion to their real importance; to yielding to iso- 
lation and becoming ingrown and contented with 
things as they are; to bitterness with your isolation 
becoming transformed into finding fault with this or 
that comrade, this or that group for objective difficul- 
ties basically beyond anyone's control; to a dozen and 
one other of the evils attendant upon the life of a prop- 
aganda group. 

In the course of the early years of the CLA (1932- 
1933), these negative aspects of the Leagues life were 
manifested in an increasingly violent struggle in the lead- 
ership and the ranks which divided them into two 
groups, the Cannon and Shachtman factions. It would 
lead us too far afield to go into the details of this inter- 
nal struggle. Nor is it necessary, if only because of the 
facts that it has long ago been oudived and effectively liq- 
uidated and that it had no basis in political or principled 
differences. It appeared to revolve around accusations of 
organizational abuses on the one side and similar delin- 
quencies on the other, for both sides repeatedly stressed 
the absence of serious political differences as the basis of 
the fight. What is necessary is that a political explanation 
be given oiwhy the fight took place, what was its nature, 
and how it was and why it had to be settled. The Weber 
group today lives essentially on poisoned reminiscences 
of that obsolete struggle; it still circulates the faction 
accusations of Shachtman against Cannon and vice- versa 
as the material with which it "educates" its supporters. It 
tears situations and arguments right out of their context 
and in a thoroughly absurd — not to say criminal — man- 
ner applies them to present-day situations which have no 
kinship with those of the past. The clearest summary of 
what the CLA internal dispute was, at bottom, was made 
in a letter to the International Secretariat written by 
Comrade Trotsky on March 7, 1933. We quote a lengthy 
excerpt from it because it is not only a political explana- 
tion of the League's internecine strife but because it will 
help to lay bare the falsity of the whole Weber faction's 

For several years the action of the League bore mainly a 
literary propagandist character. The number of members 
vacillated around the same figure, varying according to 
the improvement or worsening of the work at the center. 
The absence of progress in the movement, as has always 
been the case, aroused all sorts of personal antagonisms. 
The same absence of progress in the movement does not 
permit these antagonisms to take on a political character. 
This has given and still gives to the struggle an excessively 
poisoned character in the absence of a principled content 
clear for everybody. Members of the organization do not 
learn anything from such a struggle. They are forced to 
group themselves according to personal attachments, 
sympathies and antipathies. The struggle of the groups 

becomes, in its turn, an obstacle to the further progress of 
the movement.... 

It is quite possible that in this struggle there are con- 
tained plausible principled differences in embryonic 
form. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that the two groups 
anticipate too much and sharpen the organizational 
struggle between the groups and persons altogether out of 
proportion with the development of the political work 
and of the questions raised by the latter.... A genuine 
solution of the internal difficulties can only be found 
along the path of expanding the mass work.... Of course, 
it is theoretically possible that with the transition to 
broader work, the potential differences can assume an 
open and active political character. But up to the present, 
this has not at all been expressed in anything. More or less 
full-fashioned, serious and firm differences have not been 
revealed in any of the three fields of work mentioned 
above. There remains another explanation: the aggrava- 
tion of the crisis has been called forth by the mechanics 
themselves of the transition from one stage of work to 
another. This does not exclude the birth of serious differ- 
ences in the future, but these do not necessarily have to 
correspond with the lineup of the present groupings.... It 
is quite possible that the leadership, after some regroup- 
ments, will be constituted from elements of both the 
present groups.... Given the absence or, at least, the non- 
obviousness of the principled basis in the struggle of the 
groups, conciliationism is quite justified and progressive 
in the internal life. It is necessary now, at the present 
stage, to support this tendency with all the authority of 
the international organization. 

The point of view contained in this letter finally met 
with the agreement of the representatives of both fac- 
tions who visited Trotsky to discuss our internal situa- 
tion (Swabeck and Shachtman), and was finally embod- 
ied in the resolution on the American situation adopted 
by the 1933 plenum of the ICL, which further pro- 
posed that "the factional organizations should be dis- 
solved." Both representatives pledged themselves to 
carry this resolution into effect to the full extent of their 
powers, and to win their partisans to its support. There 
are no clear political differences; conciliationism is 
healthy and justified; dissolve the factions; plunge into 
mass work; if there are latent political differences they 
will show themselves when they emerge as political 
reactions to problems of the class struggle; but they 
need not necessarily manifest themselves organization- 
ally in the old factional lineup — a new one may appear. 
This was the line which both the old factions — 
Cannon, Shachtman, Swabeck, Glotzer, Oehler, Abern, 
Stamm, Weber — formally declared to correspond to the 
realities of the situation, formally declared themselves 
ready to support. 

Yet "the mechanics themselves of the transition from 
one stage to another" provoked a sharpening of the 
situation for a time. Instead of the situation being 


improved, the League reached a point where it was 
threatened with a split. In a letter to Shachtman, Trotsky 
wrote on March 8, 1933: 

You are marching towards a split there and that would 
mean the catastrophe for the League. It is actually all the 
same, regardless of what side is more in the wrong, for 
both sides will be in no position to explain to the work- 
ers what caused the split. And that will completely com- 
promise both groups. In one of your letters you gave 
expression to the hope that the next conference would 
settle the disputes. This is by no means my opinion. If 
your group gets 51 percent, it would change nothing in 
the matter. 

And, referring to this letter, Trotsky wrote Glotzer on 
March 14, 1933: 

I can only give you the same counsel: In no case and 
under no circumstances to sharpen the situation in the 
League. The I.S., I hope, will intervene in a few days in 
the American question. Any impatience on the part of 
your group would bring closer a split. And a split without 
political physiognomy is the most dangerous miscarriage, 
which may inflict death upon the mother as well as upon 
the child. Also the hope for an early national conference 
could, under the given conditions, call forth only an 
insignificant shifting of the relationship of forces. 
Whether your group has five representatives in the 
National Committee and the others four, or the reverse, 
remains pretty insignificant, since the one group is 
dependent upon the other if one is not to drive to a split, 
that is, to a catastrophe. No impatience, dear Glotzer. You 
must prepare yourself for long work. You will say to me: 
"And the others, the Cannon group?" Naturally, it goes 
for both groups at the same time. 

Precisely in order to prevent the split "without polit- 
ical physiognomy," in order to ameliorate the League sit- 
uation, to make possible collaboration, to facilitate the 
turn to mass work, Shachtman had proposed to his 
friends the liquidation of the group. And for a time it was 
in effect liquidated. (The same proposition was made by 
Cannon in his group where, interestingly and signifi- 
cantly enough, resistance was offered to dissolution pri- 
marily by Stamm and Oehler.) Led by Weber and Abern, 
however, a number of comrades, still agitated by remi- 
niscences of yesterday's sharp antagonisms, demanded 
the reconstitution of the faction — a direct violation, it 
goes without saying, of the formal pledge made to dis- 
solve the groups — and, at a meeting where Shachtman 
was present, he was lustily indicted for having let the fac- 
tion go to pieces. Shachtman pointed out that a group 
can exist under then-obtaining circumstances only if it 
has a distinct platform of its own and is ready to fight in 
the organization for leadership as against another group. 

But not only did we not have a distinct platform of 
our own, but, with all the denunciations of the "Cannon 
regime," nobody in the group was prepared to "take 

over leadership." Spector had retired again to Canada; 
Glotzer had found the responsibilities of leadership at the 
center a bit onerous and had retired to Chicago, from 
behind which he kept up a systematic criticism of the 
Resident Committee for its "lack of functioning"; Abern 
had retired from all leading activity and refused to under- 
take any work, either under instructions from the League 
or from the faction. Of the more or less leading com- 
rades, only Shachtman and Lewit were carrying on any 
responsible activity in the center. 

In order to achieve the dissolution of the group in 
an indirect way — by demonstrating the baselessness of 
it, its futility, its pretentiousness — Shachtman cut the 
ground from under the Abernites who were insisting on 
the perpetuation of the faction by proposing that only 
those can be members of the group who are subject to 
its discipline and ready to do work for the League 
which the group would decide they must do. Abern 
voted against this motion, thereby placing himself out- 
side the group. The minutes of our January 13, 1934, 
meeting read: "Group to meet Sunday, January 20, at 
10 a.m. Letter from Marty (Abern) to be read.... Settle 
group once for all." At the January 20 meeting it was 
settled, "once for all." It was the last meeting of the 
"Shachtman group." But it is from that time that dates 
the birth of the Weber-Abem caucus! 

The decisive reason why neither the Cannon nor the 
Shachtman groups could ever be reconstituted on the old 
basis lay in the fact that in the course of the year 1934, 
the progressive forces in both groups found a common 
political basis, which not only broke down the old lines 
effectively and made a reality of Trotsky s prediction that 
"the leadership, after some regroupments, will be consti- 
tuted from elements of both the present groups" — but 
which facilitated the great advances made by the League 
in practical work and wiped out for good the impend- 
ing danger of a split. Cannon and Shachtman worked 
out joindy, and in complete harmony, the whole line and 
perspective of the fusion with the AWP, and together car- 
ried the burden of the work of effecting the fusion and 
defending it in the membership. Cannon and Shacht- 
man achieved a complete harmony of view with regard 
to the essential "international" question facing the 
League that year — the so-called French turn and its 
endorsement by the CLA. Cannon and Shachtman 
achieved a complete unity of view and conduct in the 
course of the famous Minneapolis strike, which was the 
high-water mark of the League's activities. 

In the face of this political and working solidarity, it 
would have been criminal — and worse: stupid — for 
Cannon to have based his attitude towards Shachtman 
on what he had said about him a year or two before, or 
for Shachtman's attitude towards Cannon to retain the 


same old basis. Kentucky feuds are fought that way — 
unto the seventh generation. Gang fights are conducted 
on the same principle ("I'll get him for what he did to 
me if I have to wait ten years"). Bolsheviks detest feud- 
ism and gangsterism in politics. They base their collab- 
oration on political agreement, regardless of whom they 
agree with; they base their antipathies on political dis- 
agreement, regardless of whom they disagree with. No 
more violent philippics can be imagined than those 
hurled back and forth between Lenin and Trotsky for 
14 long and feverishly polemical years. Yet the moment 
they met in the Russia of 1917 and discovered that they 
had arrived at political agreement, they reestablished 
the firmest and most durable political and organiza- 
tional collaboration seen since the days of Marx and 
Engels. Don't imagine for a moment that there weren't 
Russian Weberites in those days who were discomfited 
by this resumed solidarity and who insinuatingly whis- 
pered the old stories about what Lenin once said about 
Trotsky and what Trotsky once said about Lenin. But 
during Lenin's lifetime these feudists never dared raise 
their voices above a whisper, else they would have 
received the answer they deserved and which Lenin was 
quite capable of giving in his own crushing way. They 
had to wait for Lenin to die before their type of politics 
could be shouted in public and finally be made to pre- 
vail in the Soviet Union. 

Now, we need no muttonhead to remind us that nei- 
ther Cannon nor Shachtman is a Lenin or Trotsky 
What is important is the essence of the comparison. At 
least between Lenin and Trotsky there had been serious, 
deep political differences before 1917; between Cannon 
and Shachtman there had been only organizational dif- 
ferences, and of a minor temporary character at that. 
The fact that they were able to collaborate organiza- 
tionally after having found such indisputable political 
agreement on every important question facing the 
CLA, should have been welcomed by every serious 
League member, not only because it made possible a 
liquidation of the bad state of affairs in the organization 
and a leap forward in its work, but because it showed 
that the responsible leaders of the League did not act in 
their disputes like Kentucky feudists or Chicago gang- 
sters. The Weberites did not welcome it, however, and 
they translated their dissatisfaction with the ending of 
the old war they had enjoyed so much into the forma- 
tion of a clique that would continue circulating the old 
caucus documents and fighting the old battles, regard- 
less of the fact that, as the months went by and new 
problems arose to be solved, the membership, especially 
the new comrades, came to know less about the origin 
and nature of the old disputes and — properly 
enough — cared less. They were like the aged imperial 

warrior in Dryden's "Alexander's Feast": 

Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain; 
Fought all his batdes o'er again; 
And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice 
he slew the slain. 

They were — and though there is nothing either 
imperial or warrior-like about them, they still are. 

You will ask: What was the political platform of the 
Weber group which distinguished it from other groups 
or tendencies and thereby warranted the formation of a 
faction? It had no political platform. 

You will ask: What political differences did it have at 
that time with the NC? It had no political differences, 
but it hoped they would develop. 

You will ask: What political differences did develop 
in the last year of the CLA's existence to justify their 
anticipations? None really developed, for, as pointed 
out previously in this document, the Weberites found 
that on the main line of the main questions facing the 
League that crucial year, they were in avowed agree- 
ment with Cannon and Shachtman. 

You will ask- Can this be called a political group con- 
tributing anything positive and healthful to the move- 
ment? No, it can only be called by its right name: an 
unprincipled clique without a platform of its own, skulk- 
ing in the dark, operating surreptitiously, envenoming 
the party with its letters containing accusations which 
they dare not make in the party publicly, seeking to 
undermine by any means at its disposal those comrades 
upon whom they insist the responsibility of leadership 
must fall, lying in wait for an opportunity to pounce 
upon those who take responsibility and discharge it by 
allying or blocking up with anybody who, for whatever 
reason, is also opposed to this leadership. 

What a perfect portrait Weber draws of himself and 
his faction in his revolting letter to Glotzer on October 
26, 1934! 

Papcun came to New York intending to get together all 
the "honest" elements for a discussion. He proposed that 
I sit in the same room with Oehler for a serious discus- 
sion. Valuing Papcun I stated my willingness for under- 
taking such an impossible discussion, although I told him 
plainly that no group could be formed on any such 
notion as "honesty." (It wouldn't be bad as one of the 
ingredients, however! — MS.) Oehler refused to discuss 
and Papcun has now become convinced that one has to 
work with a homogeneous group. I think I brought him 
over to my view on the French question and he is willing 
to start a group more or less in accord on ideas. Marty — 
possibly in view of the Daily Worker matter — was scared 
off* even from discussion. But I am now convinced that a 
new group is necessary. I believe we can start with the 
French question as a club and prevent the Oehlers from 
falsely corralling the sentiment of the League against the 
NC majority and its methods of doing business. 


What good tidings to bear to the countryside! After 
waiting for almost a year, Weber had found an issue on 
which to fight the NC, on which to recruit members 
for his woebegone secret caucus. "We can start with the 
French question as a club" — there is a sentence that 
should go down as a classic of political abomination! 
And what "French question" would serve as "the club"? 
"Organic unity"! Shachtman and Swabeck had come 
out against it, and, said Weber, Trotsky had come out 
for it in a recent article ("at least, so I think," said Weber 
about an article signed "Linier" which was a pseudo- 
nym selected by Molinier by dropping the first two let- 
ters of his name!). Now, thinks Weber, we'll also come 
out for "organic unity," Shachtman and Cannon will 
oppose it, we'll have Trotsky on our side, we'll have our 
yearned-for issue, we'll have a club and — praise 
Allah! — our chance at last to smash the "regime." 

"I am still chuckling and smacking my lips, some 
would say of me that I am licking my chops, over your 
letter to the inestimable Max," Weber writes gleefully. 
You scored him at every turn and on every point, show- 
ing a new skill with that rapier, the pen. (This is what is 
known as the an of choking a cat with butter! — 
MS)... There is a logic of action when once one takes a 
certain road that drives willy-nilly straight towards the 
end of that road. It is only the great mind — greater than 
Max possesses — that knows how to change a false course in 
rime. Starring by "suppressing" effectively through the gentle 
art of delay the documents of an Abern, a Glotzer and a 
Weber in a discussion, the Shachtmans may end by 
beginning to suppress the documents of a Trotsky. And 
that has already happened! The NC has voted against 
printing in the Militant an excellent article by "Crux" 
(the Old Man) printed in Unser Wort because it is 
"wrong" from the NC standpoint on organic unity. Of 
course they offer to mimeograph it for the members — 
but we can place no trust in them at all. And the Old 
Man did not take the steps he did in France without the 
clearest kind of warning that this is a matter on which he 
will break with who disagree. Are the Shachtmans and 
Swabecks ready to break? Obviously not, and hence the 
greater their demolition of the position of organic unity*, 
the greater will be the abjectness of their capitulation 
when the proper time comes — if they do not pursue the 
course too far on which they are now headed. 

This letter sums up the character of the whole Weber 
caucus and the basic point wherein it differs from us: 
Our "organizational methods" flow direcdy, logically, 
conformably from our political line, from which they 
are inseparable. With Weber, however, his political line 
flows direcdy from his "organizational requirements," 
that is, from his unprincipled platformless factional 
antipathy towards us. The difference is that which exists 
between a Marxian group and a reactionary clique. 
Hating us intensely on the basis of old, half-forgotten 
disputes, Weber formed his clique, lay in wait for 
months looking for a "club" and then finally, "smacking 
his lips," he discovered or manufactured one. But does 
this mean that Weber was ready to take over the respon- 
sibilities then borne by those whom he was going to 
"club" out of leadership? Not for a moment, for with 
all its disadvantages, life is too comfortable as it is, and 
surreptitious sniping is far easier than carrying on the 
work at the center. Let us read a little more from this 
revealing-revolting letter: 

Finally, let us ask, why are our "leaders" opposed to 
having the Stalinists enter into an organic unity with our 
own forces and the SP in France? Evidendy because they 
were thinking not so much of France, of which they knew 
so litde, as of America. And here they would probably 
take a similar stand under similar conditions (which are 
not in sight yet). They are opposed under all conditionsl 
Hence there is no point in looking elsewhere than 
right here for the reasons. One must conclude that the 
answer lies in — careerism. Evidendy joining the SP or 
any other party after it has become centrist (and even 
this they ignore) involves the possibility of gaining 
leadership or at least important posts. And we don't 
want too many competitors, especially when backed 
by a large following. One cannot explain their stand 

It is only with the greatest restraint that we refrain 
from characterizing in the only way he can be charac- 
terized the comfortably placed author of the above lines 
who, though a tractor could not draw him into the not 
over-lucrative post of a party worker, writes so inti- 
mately and expertly about careerists hunting for posts. 
What is politically important — and those are the things 

*The "organic unity" position we were going to capitulate 
to is detailed by Weber further along in the letter; it is sim- 
ply too unique to let go unquoted. "In France, one way or 
another, we must bring about the formation of Soviets.... In 
a sense, and certainly in the sense in which all groupings can 
agitate freely for the adoption of their point of view, the Soviet 
may be called an 'organic unity.' The question is: would not 
the formation of Soviets, which do not fall from heaven, 
be gready facilitated by the formation of a single, united 
party with its roots reaching into the remotest corner of 
France and involving all sections of the masses? In fact one 

could say that the 'organic unity' would itself bring about 
the All-national Soviet which would in turn help to spread 
the Soviets everywhere. Fanciful? Not a bit. It is not even 
fanciful to say — as I do — that to oppose organic unity is to 
oppose a strong weapon that can be utilized for the crea- 
tion of Soviets — to oppose organic unity is to oppose the 
Soviets!" This is not merely enough, as Stalin would say, to 
make a cat laugh, or even a horse. It is our contention that 
it is enough to make the stone image of the Sphinx laugh. 
An impossibility, you say? Or as Weber would put it: Fanci- 
ful? Not a bit! 


we want to concern ourselves with in this document — 
is the fact that Weber and his caucus, who qualified a 
certain group of comrades as careerists (in the cowardly 
safety of a confidential poison-pen letter which was cir- 
culated throughout his factions ranks), nevertheless 
insisted that these same careerists should have the 
majority of the leadership of the organization to which 
he belonged — insisted on it at the CLA convention 
held a bare five weeks after this letter was written. A 
revolutionist does not propose to give the leadership of 
the movement to careerists, who are its worst enemies; 
it is better to give the leadership to the youngest and 
most inexperienced militant in the ranks. Instead of 
leadership, he should give them a fight to drive the 
careerists out of the movement, or else stand doubly 
condemned as an irresponsible scoundrel who knows 
better but holds his tongue. 

To the extent that the Weber group has support in 
the party, it has not gained a single partisan by the 
methods of open, honest ideological confrontation of 
its opponents. Its methods are different: it says one 
thing in letters, in poisonous "information notes" sent 
out secretly by Abern but which they would never dare 
put before the party publicly, and says another thing 
openly. When Satir declares in his statement to the 
Pittsburgh Plenum that "factionalism is unwarranted at 
this point and can only impede the party's growth. All 
factionalism must therefore be checked" — he neglects 
to add to this pious declaration that there is a Weber 
faction operating clandestinely, hiding in the bushes 
and preparing against the day when it can find another 
"club." When Weber declares in his statement on April 
7, 1935, that "it is our duty at this time to prevent any 
exaggeration of differences to the point where encour- 
agement is given to the building of hard and fast group- 
ings" — he neglects to add to this piece of hypocrisy and 
sham that he already has a hard and fast faction which 
is preparing against the day when some differences — 
any difference! — will enable it to bob up triumphandy 
as (to quote Gould) "the only group that can come 
before the party at this juncture and honesdy place 
before the membership for examination" its "record." 

When Weber writes to the I.S. that "We felt... that it 
had become necessary after March to open up the dis- 
cussion on the French turn, so as to bring about ideo- 
logical clarification," he neglects to add that not Weber, 
not Glotzer, not Gould, not Satir, nor any other Weber- 
ite, ever translated that "feeling" into a single proposal 
to have a discussion on the French turn, or a discussion 
on anything else. When Weber warns pompously in his 

statement of April 7 against the party being "dragged 
into pursuing a tail-endist course only to be avoided by 
the prompt reaction of our leadership to all important 
events," he neglects to add that not one of the Weber- 
ites on or near the National Committee ever made one 
single motion in the PC or the NC, as the minutes tes- 
tify by elaborate silence, that was calculated to put the 
party "ahead" of events and stop it from being "tail- 
endist," so that the leadership, of which they were a 
part, would "react prompdy." (Literally! Not one single 
motion on any phase of party work was ever made by 
Weber-Glotzer-Satir-Gould up to the June Plenum, 
i.e., during those six months when, Weber said, the 
party leadership was following an "opportunist course." 
Aren't they the men chosen by nature to call us "tail- 

To the extent that the Weber clique has any political 
coloration, it represents political sterility, passivity, neg- 
ativeness, timidity, fear of bold innovation — a species 
of conservative sectarianism. Not one single political 
move has been initiated from their ranks in the two 
years of their existence, not one singe positive proposal 
in any field (oh yes, with the exception of Glotzer's 
motion to cable our greetings to the conference of the 
new Dutch party...) has emanated from them. We 
initiated and carried through the fusion with the AWP 
in all its stages, with never a positive idea contributed 
by the Weberites, unless one can designate as such the 
utter skepticism they manifested throughout that 
period towards the negotiations and the unity. We 
initiated and carried through, on a sound basis, the 
fight to endorse the French turn in the CLA. As for the 
practical work of the organization, up to and including 
the Minneapolis struggles, they were conspicuous by 
their absence in body and in ideas, and contributed 
only the most grudging half- approval of the results after 
the fact. 

In the WP, similarly. Every forward step made by the 
party was initiated by us or by Muste — in no case by 
the Weberites. The progressive steps taken by our party 
on the international field were initiated, in every case, 
by us, from the January 10, 1935, motion by Cannon 
to notify the sympathetic parties and groups of our 
desire to establish fraternal relations with them, down 
through the Pittsburgh, the June and the October Ple- 
nums; at best the Weberites trailed along, with eyes to 
both sides of the road in the hope of finding another 
"club" in some ditch. The progressive steps taken by our 
party in the fight against the Oehlerite cancer were 
initiated, in every case, and at every stage, by us; at best 
(only from October on, i.e., at the end) the Weberites 
trailed along; at worst, i.e., as a rule, they not only 
interposed themselves between us and the Oehlerites as 


a shield for the latter, but helped the sectarians to strike 
us a few treacherous blows. 

The fight to get the party to come out in favor of a 
left wing in the SP and to do something about it was 
initiated by us; at best we got perfunctory aid in June 
from the Weberites; at worst, i.e., as a rule, they joined 
in the cheap Oehlerite clamor about our "liquidation- 
ism." The fight for a realistic, Marxian unity policy in 
the unemployed field was initiated by us and sabotaged 
by the Musteites; the Weberites either played possum 
on the whole issue or else — as is now the case — they 
sign their names to the shameful avowals of indiscipline 
and defiance of the party made by the Musteites, to the 
policy which plays into the hands of the reformists and 
Stalinists. The fight against Stalinist influences in our 
party, manifested so crudely in Allentown, was initiated 
and carried through by us, for a long time together with 
Muste; when his factional interests caused him to make 
a 1 80-degree turn on the Allentown situation, he found 
the Weberites on hand to help him shield the microbe- 
bearers of Stalinism. 

Now, when we have initiated a new step forward for 
the forces of the Fourth International in this country, 
when we propose entry into the SP and YPSL, the 
Weberites again come forward with their sterile, nega- 
tive position, in the same dead spirit and with the same 
arguments — reeking of sectarian timidity (to say noth- 
ing of the same factional distortions) — they advanced a 
year and a half ago against fusion with the AWP Is it 
any wonder that the branch they have dominated for 
two years — Chicago — which they have "led" without 
contest, continues to suffer from that terrible stagnancy 
and sterility which is a reflection of the leadership of 
Weber-Glotzer-Satir; that, with Chicago our second 
most important political center, the branch simply does 
not recruit; that it has no contacts at all in the trade 
unions; that its sale of literature is poorer proportion- 
ately than that of any other important branch; that its 
public meetings are few and far between — in a word, 
that the pseudo-intransigent conservatism and sterility 
of the local leadership is like a dead hand on a branch 
which nevertheless contains a good many virile, healthy 
elements, especially among the younger comrades, 
who, once liberated from the lack of initiative and 
wordy passivity of the Weberite clique, could bound 
forward towards effective participation in the stream of 
the living movement. 

If we were commanded to give a summary character- 
ization of the Abern-Weber faction, our formula would 
confine itself to two words that describe its political pre- 
disposition and its organizational methods, a conserva- 
tive clique. The existence of a tumor and the dangers it 
represents are not made any the more tolerable by the 

fact that the tumor is a small one. Be its forces large or 
small in our party — and fortunately they are small and 
are getting smaller every day that its position is dragged 
up into the open — it represents an unhealthy and sinis- 
ter current in our bloodstream — the stream of revolu- 
tionary Marxism, which bases itself on principled con- 
siderations and operates with tested and honored 
political methods, which detests clique politics and per- 
sonal combinationism. Its morals, it manners, its cus- 
toms, its methods make it an alien system in our move- 
ment. We did not combat Oehlerism only to suffer it 
silendy in another form and under another name, but 
which, in some respects, is worse. If our movement is to 
grow to its full stature, if it is to measure up to its grand 
tasks, the Weberite system of politics must be ruthlessly 
eradicated from the minds of those comrades in our 
ranks who have been made its victims. 

A Final Note: The Muste Group 

From every point of view, the Muste group repre- 
sents a far more significant quantity and quality in the 
labor and revolutionary movements than do the Weber- 
ites. This is not so because Muste knows more than, or 
even as much as, Weber does about the theory of the 
permanent revolution, but because he represented to a 
considerable degree an authentic movement of class- 
conscious militants who have evolved from general 
labor education, trade union progressivism and 
activism in the class struggle to the ranks of the Bol- 
shevik political movement. Each one of us has evolved 
in his own way to the point; important is the fact that, 
despite halts on the road and even excursions into 
bypaths, the Muste group did not remain standing still 
but moved to a left-wing position with greater or lesser 
consistency. Its evolution is, I think, a unique one in 
modern world labor history, if only because of the fact 
that it developed to the point that it did principally on 
the basis of the lessons drawn from empirical experi- 
ence (in the best sense of the term) in the class struggle, 
and not so much on the basis of Marxian theory and 
perspective more or less developed in advance. Precisely 
therein, however, lies an essential weakness. 

Just as we never objected to the Stalinist phrase 
"social fascism" because many socialists considered it 
abusive, but because we considered it false, so in every 
other designation of groups and tendencies we seek to 
follow the established Marxian precept of applying that 
term which most accurately describes the political phys- 
iognomy of the given movement, always bearing in 
mind that the term which was invalid yesterday and 
valid today may become invalid tomorrow, even if for 
other reasons. In qualifying the AWP and its leadership 
(more than a year ago) as centrist, we not only did not 


designate them thus for the purpose of "abuse" 
(the very concept is absurd in this connection) but, 
quite the contrary, as an indication of their progressive 
character. Just as the centrism of Stalin is reactionary, 
for it marks a departure to the right of the Marxian 
position of the Russian Communist Party of yesterday, 
so the centrism of the AWP was progressive, for it 
marked a departure to the left of the position of its pre- 
cursor, the CPLA. That is why we only smiled patiendy 
at those pseudo-intransigents in our own ranks at that 
time who appealed to us (presumably "old Bolsheviks") 
to be on our guard against fusing with "people who will 
never become communists" (Glotzer), just as we had to 
shrug our shoulders impatiently at the same pseudo- 
intransigents who made a bloc with "people who will 
never become communists" against... us. 

Our course with regard to the Musteites was at all 
times grounded on a clear line, worked out with a long- 
time perspective, of the closest and most loyal collabo- 
ration for the purpose of joindy advancing the move- 
ment for the Fourth International, of steering it 
carefully through its first difficult period, of protecting 
it from its numerous foes both outside and inside the 
party. From the point of view of straightforward prog- 
ress, the first six months of the existence of the party 
were undoubtedly its most fruitful ones. That was made 
possible by the loyal collaboration of the Musteites with 
the Marxian core of the CLA. Our standpoint was, 
throughout the whole first period (we expressed it more 
than once), that while we were anxious to facilitate the 
utmost cooperation with the Weberites, and even with 
the Oehlerites, the main basis for the progressive devel- 
opment of the party consisted in the collaboration 
between the elements grouped around Muste and those 
grouped around us, not the whole basis, but the main 
basis. It was on the foundation of this joint, intimate 
work that the Muste group, in that period, made a con- 
sistently progressive contribution to the advancement 
of our movement. 

The sharp, totally uncalled-for rupture of this collab- 
oration which was effected on Muste's initiative at and 
after the June Plenum indicates above all — and we are 
perfectly ready to acknowledge the fact — that we had 
overestimated the speed and the quality of Muste's 
development from an uncertain centrist position on 
political questions to the more sure-footed and consis- 
tent position of Marxism. Muste, brought face to face 
with the need of drawing another, and more significant, 
logical conclusion from the whole course he had been 
pursuing in common with us, drew up short, balked, 
stood stock still, then moved backward, and, because 
we were pressing for another step forward, the breach 
necessarily occurred. And it occurred on the most cru- 

cial question then confronting the party: the need of 
taking another step against the insolent provocations of 
the reactionary current in our party, the Oehler anti- 

That our collaboration with Muste was indisputably 
loyal and free from any trace of deception has already 
been adequately established. Muste only puts himself in 
a rather dubious position when he charges us with dis- 
loyalty, concealment and duplicity on the basis of that 
very letter of Cannon to him in Toledo in which Can- 
non sets down, clearly and unambiguously, the facts of 
the situation and the course which he proposes the 
party shall take, and invites Muste to talk things over 
with him upon his return to the Center. Not until the 
open break at the plenum itself did Muste ever so much 
as hint to us his feeling that we were guilty of those 
wildly-hurled, irresponsible charges which he subse- 
quently levelled at us. After six months of unbroken 
collaboration with us, he did not think it possible, or 
necessary, between his return from Toledo and the 
opening of the plenum, to draw us aside in conference 
and, by comradely discussion, at least attempt to arrive 
at an understanding and mutual agreement. 

Instead, he turned to those whom he had denounced 
three months ago as "sectarian and factional" and whom 
he would be compelled to denounce three days later as 
"slanderers" — the Oehlerites — for the purpose of carry- 
ing out an action on the eve of the plenum which self- 
restraint advises us to qualify as... not quite loyal and 
hardly responsible. What we refer to is dealt with at 
length in the statements made by Muste and McKinney 
concerning their conference with the socialist Y., as 
recorded in the minutes of the control commission of the 
June Plenum. The Oehlerites had whispered a venomous 
lie in Muste's ear about Cannon. It apparendy never 
occurred to Muste to report this to Cannon and ask him 
for an accounting, or even to report it, more formally, to 
the PC and demand an accounting from Cannon there. 
Merely on the say-so of a couple of proved calumniators, 
Muste and McKinney proceeded to meet with the non- 
party member Y., without notifying the party or its PC, 
without obtaining their permission, and, to top it all, 
together with Stamm and Oehler. Even after this meet- 
ing was held, Muste did not report it either to the PC or 
to Cannon. We heard of it secondhand, confronted 
Muste with it on the eve of the plenum, and only then 
we were told of the whole sordid action. The interesting 
minutes read: 

West: Did you report your conference with Y. to 

Muste: No, M., the contact with Y, mentioned to Can- 
non subsequently the fact of our conference, and when 
this question was brought up at the conference at 


Cannon's home a few nights ago I reported on it in the 
same manner that I have now done. 

West: Did you believe that holding a meeting together 
with Oehler and Stamm served this purpose? 

Muste: Yes, there was no other way to check up on 
Oehler's and Stamm's statements except in the presence of 
Y. where discrepancies would have been revealed and 
could have been immediately followed up. 

Yes, there were at least two other ways "to check up." 
One was to ask Cannon for his version of what had 
happened; the other was to invite Cannon to this con- 
ference with Y. After all, it was Cannon who was really 
being "checked up on." But it seems that it never 
occurred to Muste, who took Oehler and Stamm along 
to meet with Y., to invite Cannon along so that he too 
might see to it that "discrepancies would have been 
revealed and could have been immediately followed 
up." In two blunt words, Muste's conduct was irrespon- 
sible and disloyal. 

That there is nothing maliciously disloyal in Muste's 
conduct we are perfectly ready to acknowledge. For that 
matter, it is not very important. What is important is 
the fact that, especially during and since the June Ple- 
num, Muste revealed a relapse into the centrist vacilla- 
tions from which, when collaborating with us and our 
line, he had been progressively moving away; he 
revealed an inability to analyze clearly so as to have a 
political line that would carry him in one consistent 
direction for a measurable period of time; he revealed 
an inability to connect his yesterday logically with his 
today, so that every morning he had to make a sharp 
turn, unload the responsibility for everything he did 
and said yesterday, and hunt about for somebody to 
blame for having "misled" him. These are not the traits 
of a man with a consistent political position. 

Reflect on the following telling gyrations: 

In March, he stood firmly with us, designating 
Oehler as sectarian and factional, and rejecting Cohen's 
criticisms for what they really were: formalistic, unreal, 

In June, he was almost indistinguishable from 
Oehler, would not allow a single, even mildly critical 
resolution to be adopted against him, poured all the 
abuse at his command at us, and a week later organized 
not merely a bloc, but a faction with... Cohen. 

A couple of weeks after standing like a Horatius at 
the bridge against any censure of Oehler, he was com- 
pelled to make a motion in the PC to censure Oehler. 

Two months later, he broke with Cannon and found 
himself allied — O fate! — with the Weberites. A couple 
of weeks thereafter, at the October Plenum, we all 
joined in a bloc, based on unanimously adopted resolu- 
tions, against Oehler. Before a month had passed, the 

bloc was once more disrupted by Muste and Weber, 
who launched first a sly and then an open caucus cam- 
paign against us. 

What political consistency would the graph of this 
mercurial line reveal? 

Take the case of the struggle against the Oehlerites. 
We joined issue with the Oehlerites in Pittsburgh and 
adopted, together, a political resolution, clear, plain, 
simple, obvious, of condemnation of the factional sec- 
tarians. A brief three months later, Muste declared at 
the June Plenum: "A number of Plenum members, not 
being acquainted with the past history of the CLA and 
with Comrade Cannon's organizational methods, voted 
for this resolution in ignorance of its full implications. 
Duplicity in Comrade Cannon's procedure insofar as 
the former AWP comrades are concerned was, in our 
estimation, involved in this action." Three months after 
this statement, Muste had to expel the Oehlerites, who, 
politically speaking, wrote this statement for him, 
because in it was contained their line, their arguments, 
their attack. 

At the June Plenum we stated that the Oehlerites rep- 
resented an anti-Trotskyist faction, i.e., anti-Marxist. 
This entirely correct, 100 percent confirmed and purely 
political estimate was denounced by Muste in his state- 
ment: "The attempt of the Cannon-Shachtman faction 
to make it appear that the plenum is now confronted 
with the issue, e.g., of 'Trotskyism' vs. 'anti-Trotskyism' 
is another illustration of the utterly unprincipled way in 
which these leading comrades constantly twist issues." 
(By the way, what did Weber & Co., who knew then that 
our estimate of the Oehlerites was correct, just as every- 
body, including Muste, knows today that it is correct, 
what did Weber & Co. do to correct Muste's view at the 
plenum? Did they solidarize themselves with us? Of 
course not!) 

We proposed a bloc with Muste (and Weber) to fight 
Oehler and Oehlerism, on the basis of a common polit- 
ical line of solidarity with the main stream of the 
Fourth International. They replied by drawing up a 
common resolution with Oehler, acceptable to the lat- 
ter but not to us; in other words, they made a bloc with 
Oehler against us. 

We proposed to direct the fire of the plenum against 
the Oehlerites as the main danger to the party. Muste 
answered our proposal by writing about us in his state- 
ment: "No solution of political questions is possible, 
nor healthy party activity of any kind, so long as these 
stupid, factional, brutal, individualistic and unprinci- 
pled methods are used by party leaders." No censure of 
Oehler — God forbid — for that might offend him; but 
not abuse strong enough to characterize those with 
whom Muste had worked in perfect harmony for six 


months. Where was Muste's fire directed? Read his 
statement over again today, all the attacks are against 
us, but not one single word even of implied criticism of 
Oehler! Read the January 10, 1936, Internal Bulletin of 
the party: 19 solid pages of the Muste line between June 
and October, and every one of the 19 pages filled exclu- 
sively with attacks on us — every page, every paragraph, 
every line. (To be stricdy accurate, at the bottom of 
page 8 is one single sentence of uneasy apology: "In 
order to avoid all misunderstanding (!) I wish to state 
again that I am not arguing for the Oehlerite political 
position." It's a good thing he does "state" it; other- 
wise....) In a word, Muste lost all sense of proportion 
and of political value and concentrated all his fire 
against us, who were fighting the Oehlerite cancer. 
Again, to be stricdy accurate, not all his fire, because he 
had none of his own; he merely repeated two-thirds of 
the Oehler platform and signed his name to it. 

In his latest Internal Bulletin articles, Muste charges us 
(another plagiarism from the Oehlerites!) with having 
"deliberately started a series of measures beginning with 
the public attack by Cannon on Zack calculated to bring 
about the expulsion of the Oehlerites from the party" 
But on June 4 he voted for, signed and sent out a state- 
ment of the PC which specifically refuted this charge! 
How does Muste make the two contradictory statements 
to which he put his name jibe? He does not seem to 
attach any particular importance to the political position 
to which he commits himself when he signs his name to 
a political document. In June he repudiated his March 
position on Oehler; in October he repudiated his June 
position on Oehler; in the Internal Bulletin article he 
repudiated his June 4 position on the Zack affair; on 
May 27 he "postponed until after the (June) Plenum so 
that it may consider the political line of the Plenum" and 
now in the Internal Bulletin (page 4) he complains that 
"Cannon-Shachtman insisted that it must be a political 
convention for dealing with political issues"; at one meet- 
ing he voted for the system of proportional representa- 
tion and voting we proposed for the district convention, 
and a few meetings later he proposed to rearrange it 
entirely so as to get another delegate or two; etc., etc. 

What happened in all these cases? Was this inno- 
cent Gretchen always "misled" by the Mephistophelean 
Cannon? Assuming that he has the unfortunate habit of 
slipping easily into sin, may we be pardoned for point- 
ing out that it is not the business of leaders to be misled, 
but to lead? And that in order to do that, they must 
at least try to maintain a consistent line for a given 
period of time, otherwise they will not lead, but floun- 
der? And that in order to have a consistent line, they 
must be guided by considerations of Marxian principle, 
and not by psychological considerations and considera- 

tions of personal prestige? 

Another qualification for consistent leadership is a 
fairly good memory, that enables one to recall today 
what he said yesterday, so that he is not constandy in 
conflict with himself. In the January 10, 1936, Internal 
Bulletin Muste presents the following (thoroughly Oeh- 
leristic) version of the origin of the internal struggle in 
our party: 

The Oehlerites were by no means alone in instigating 
whatever turmoil existed in the party in the early weeks 
of their existence. Their open aggressiveness dated from 
the West resolution and the Shachtman-Swabeck sup- 
port of it — in other words, from the time when the 
disputed political issue was first definitely posed in the 
party. Furthermore, the party press from the outset 
had carried material implying approval and support of 
the French turn. 

Wrong on both counts! And the most direct refuta- 
tion of this Oehlerite version is offered by none other 
than Muste himself — but by a different Muste, by 
one — how shall we put it? — whose memory of the 
"early weeks" was somewhat fresher and more than 
somewhat more accurate. In a report and discussion at 
the PC meeting of April 1, 1935, on the New York 
membership meeting of the preceding day, taken down 
in stenographic summary by Muste's secretary, Com- 
rade D. Prenner, from whose file copy I quote, Muste 
had the following to say: 

It has been suggested by Oehler (and repeated faithfully 
by Muste four months later! — MS) that controversy was 
not aroused in party until West resolution came up. This 
is incorrect. West resolution came up at first meeting after 
my return from tour when already over the New Militant 
and other matters a terrific uproar had been created in the 
party. Oehler, Stamm, etc. were guilty of direct violation 
of discipline in making the West resolution known to 
membership and in not openly and vigorously combat- 
ting outrageous misstatement as to its contents. I 
opposed the W resolution. Its perspective is in my opin- 
ion thoroughly incorrect. He did not, however, propose 
that the party go into the SP and definitely provided for 
no watering down of WP principles. 

Oehler, Stamm, etc. permitted a disgraceful exhibition 
of those in political agreement with them at beginning of 
Active Workers Conference in Pittsburgh, thus violating 
their responsibility to the NC and made impossible the 
objective discussion of the political issues which they are 
constantly demanding. Rightly or wrongly the Plenum 
made a decision. It was their business to accept the deci- 
sion and, particularly after they were given an opportu- 
nity to present minority viewpoint at the NY member- 
ship meeting, to make it clear to the membership and 
particularly to their own political supporters that the Ple- 
num decision must nevertheless be accepted. They once 
again openly violated NC and PC discipline in stating 
that sending Oehler to Illinois was an organizational 
measure against him. Their line would mean not taking 


into the party any worker not already completely trained 
in Bolshevik-Leninist theory and by struggle forcing out 
of the party any such worker. This is an impossible con- 
ception for building the party. Workers have to be drawn 
in and their education carried on within the party. This 
can be done and a disciplined revolutionary party rather 
than a sect created provided the leading elements in the 
party are thoroughly trained, disciplined and loyal to the 
conception of a Leninist party. The course being pursued 
by Oehler and Stamm means forcing healthy elements 
away from the WP rather than creating the atmosphere in 
which they are trained in correct principles and firmly 
attached to them. If the course succeeds, then by weaken- 
ing the WP they will force it into the SP instead of 
accomplishing the purpose they claim to have in mind. 

How different in approach, in fact-stating, in analy- 
sis and in conclusion, how infinitely correct was Muste 
when he was being "misled" by a Marxian line! How 
pathetic it is to see him now, warming over the cold and 
soggy potatoes of Oehlerism! 

As for the second count, his memory fails him again. 
It is true that after the June Plenum, just before Weber's 
eloquence finally convinced Muste in favor of the 
French turn, Muste, jointly with Oehler, censured us 
for printing articles "supporting the French turn" (by 
the way, what does Weber, who opposed the censure 
and the arguments Muste made for it, say now to the 
fact that his partner continues to charge us with this 
"crime"?). But the censure was adopted not for objec- 
tive reasons, but for purely factional ones. Before Muste 
had a factional axe to grind against us, he paid no atten- 
tion to the groundless repetitions by the Oehlerites that 
under our editorship the French turn was being 
favored. Thus, the PC minutes of April 1 5 record a 
protest by Stamm against an article on the French situ- 
ation in the New Militant of April 13, a protest similar 
to the one on whose basis we were censured a few 
months later. But at that time Muste made no motion 
to censure Cannon, nor did Stamm make a motion to 
censure Cannon, because he knew he could not then 
get Muste's support. Muste's (read: Oehler's) version 
No. 2 simply will not hold water against his entirely 
objective version No. 1 last April! 

Or take the situation in Allentown. Muste now seeks 
to present matters as if we had, somehow, invented a 
"situation" in Allentown for the purpose of hounding 
"honest workers," or that whatever trivialities may have 
been involved there, our "arbitrary" decisions kept 
making them worse. Yet the Allentown problem is as 
old as our party, and has always revolved around one 
central point: the inability or unwillingness of some of 
the local comrades to resist the infiltration of Stalinist 
ideas into our movement, their lack of understanding 
of how dangerous to the working class Stalinism is, 

their lack of understanding of how to combat it, and 
the fact that at times they become the direct bearers of 
Stalinism in our ranks. 

As early as January 13, 1935, the PC heard a report 
from its representative, Oehler, as to the situation in 
Allentown, and established the need of "assisting the 
comrades in clarification on the question of united-front 
activities with the CP and the Unemployed Councils and 
particularly against the CP labor party agitation." Time 
and again, the PC concerned itself with the Allentown 
situation, and always with the same problem: how to 
combat Stalinism, or more accurately, how to get Reich 
and Hallett to stiffen a bit against Stalinist encroach- 
ments. Up to October 28, when the PC sent out a state- 
ment on Allentown to all party branches, and even as late 
as November 1 1, the problem continued to occupy us 
all. And what is more, without a single exception, the PC 
was always unanimous in its decisions. We made no pro- 
posal that Muste ever rejected as "arbitrary," or for any 
other reasons; Muste never made any proposals that we 
rejected on any grounds. 

Now, however, confronted with the fact that his fac- 
tion strength is melting away from him, Muste sacrifices 
the interests of the party for the presumed interests of 
holding together his Allentown caucus and rushes to the 
defense of the same Reich from whom the PC found 
itself compelled, time and time again, to dissociate itself. 
He covers up, shields, condones the most defiant viola- 
tions of elementary communist discipline. Instead of 
helping the Allentown comrades advance towards a rev- 
olutionary Marxian education, he coddles them, tickles 
them, tells them what fine, upright, sturdy proletarians 
they are and that, being honest workers, they have a 
right to make grave errors and to strike stiff blows at 
the party, especially when they have caucus leaders 
who will shield them not merely from disciplinary meas- 
ures, but from any efforts to correct their wrong line, 
dispel their suspicions and prejudices, and help in their 
education as revolutionary Marxists. Muste doesn't 
educate his followers; he flatters them. And workers, 
however honest they are, require not flattery from their 
leaders, but a correct and straightforward line of policy. 
And centrist vacillation, doubling on your own tracks, 
constant self-repudiation, are hardly a satisfactory sub- 
stitute for a consistent revolutionary line. 


Those who find in what has been written here only an 
account of a faction fight, of sectarian-circle strife, of a 
tempest in a teapot, will only cause the author to doubt 
the efficacy with which he brought forward his central 
point. Yet we believe that it is sufficiently clear for most 


if not all our militants, above all our youth, to discern 
and understand. Precisely because we want to uproot the 
last remnants of what has become the reactionary fea- 
tures of sectarian-circle existence, precisely because we 
want to crush the spirit and methods of intrigue, pre- 
cisely because we want to redouble the preparations for 
embarking on the broader field of the class struggle, do 
we stress so much the main point of this document. Doz- 
ens of the details in the document are, in themselves, 
unimportant. They are adduced here for two reasons: to 
put an end to some of the corridor versions of events, and 
to illuminate or illustrate a far more important point. 

We have before us a truly breath-taking job: the 
building of a powerful Bolshevik party in the citadel of 
world reaction. But this party will never be built — or if 
it is built, it will never stand up in a crisis — unless it has 
as its spinal column a steel cadre: hard, tough, firm, 
flexible, tempered. The two are inseparable: a cadre 
without a party is a skeleton without flesh or muscle; a 
party without a cadre is a mass of gelatine that 
anybody's finger can go through. And how else will the 
Bolshevik cadre be tempered unless, on every occasion, 
it has hammered into it more and more of the wisdom 
we have tried to learn from the great teachers: a deep 
respect for principle and a hatred for cliquism and 
intrigue, an equally deep regard for objective judge- 
ment of problems and a suspicious intolerance of sub- 
jective and personal considerations, a political approach 
to all political problems and a political solution for 
them. Now more than ever before are these indispen- 
sable, for the revolutionists function today amid a veri- 
table sea of corruption and decay of the old move- 
ments, the poisonous fumes of which cannot but be felt 
in our own ranks unless we constandy counteract them. 

Slowly, but surely, the basic elements of the Marxian 
cadre are being assembled; it has not been a work of days 
or even months, and it is yet far from completed. In the 
decisive leadership of the party today are represented not 
merely the best traditions and forces of the American 
communist movement, and the revolutionary movement 

before it, but also the strongest concentration of forces 
of those, old and new, who have entered the movement 
of the Bolshevik-Leninists in this country in the last 
seven years. The fact that the ranks of our group com- 
prise elements from the old Cannon faction, the 
Shachtman faction, the Carter group (even such "splin- 
ter" groups as the old Field faction, the Garrett-Glee fac- 
tion, etc.), plus such elements from the old AWP as 
Selander, Ramuglia and West (of the NC), the Toledo 
militants, half the Allentown militants, most of the NY 
activists — all these indicate that you have here no per- 
sonal combination, no chance clique that the first real 
wind will disperse, but the concentration of determined 
Marxian forces on the basis of a consistent, principled, 
political line. The scattering of the Muste group to the 
four corners of the political globe is a warning sign of the 
inefficaciousness of a vacillating line as an integrating 
force. The melting away of the Weber group is a sign that 
a clique can hold together only when it operates in the 
dark, that combinationism, however clever it may appear 
for a time, has a disintegrating effect. 

Unless all indications are false, our party is preparing 
in its overwhelming and decisive majority to take an 
audacious step forward. Audacious, and at the same time 
hazardous. Taking this step will not diminish our prob- 
lems, but multiply them, with this advantage, to be sure, 
that we shall have a far larger arena in which to solve 
them. This step would prove our complete undoing, 
however, and no problem would be solved, if we did not 
proceed, tomorrow as today and yesterday, like the rev- 
olutionary Marxian internationalists we aim to remain. 
If we do, we shall make great progress, and if we fail we 
shall be hurled back for years. If the stress we have repeat- 
edly laid on those main lines that have divided our party's 
ranks for the last year, and the CLA before it, serves to 
clarify our problems in the minds of comrades who have 
not always understood them fully, then this document 
will have accomplished its purpose of being an additional 
guarantee that the bigger problems we shall face tomor- 
row will prove easier of solution. 

Appendix I 

Resolution on the Organizational Report of the 

National Committee 

30 November 1934 

The outgoing National Committee has been in 
office for three years since the Second National Con- 
vention of the League and is virtually identical with the 
Committee that has led the organization during the 
entire six years of its existence. As such it must be 
judged from the standpoint of its achievements as well 
as of its shortcomings. 

I. On the positive side, the Third National Convention 
records the following facts of outstanding importance: 

a. The National Committee led the organization 
throughout the whole period of its existence, maintained 
a continuity of leadership, avoided the organizational 
splits which have disrupted and disorganized so many of 
the other national sections, conducted a firm political 
struggle against disintegrating elements (Weisbord, 
Field, etc.), succeeded in isolating them by political 
methods and eliminating them from our ranks without 
serious convulsions, such as similar elements introduced 
into various European sections; 

b. The National Committee directed the work of the 
organization in such a manner as made possible the 
increase of the League membership from a scattered 
handful at its inception, to its present strength, and 
finally established it as a national organization, together 
with a national youth organization; 

c. It maintained a firm line of principle and led the 
work of consolidating a strong cadre of Bolshevik- 
Leninists well-equipped with our basic ideas and prin- 
ciples for the task facing them in the new party; 

d. It enormously aided the development of these 
cadres and a broad group of sympathizers around our 
organization by the systematic publication of the fun- 
damental documents and works of Comrade Trotsky; 

e. In the face of the greatest difficulties and sacrifices, 
it continued uninterrupted the publication of the Mil- 
itant as our weekly organ, an achievement which 
proved to be beyond the power of any other indepen- 
dent political groupings; 

f. It firmly supported the progressive revolutionary 
current in our international organization and gave 
timely assistance in the solution of the internal crises in 
other sections on the Bolshevik-Leninist basis; 

g. It led the organization unitedly and without inter- 
nal difficulties in the turn from the position of a faction 
of the CI to the road of an independent organization 

working for the creation of new revolutionary parties 
and a Fourth International; 

h. It overcame, at the same time, with the aid of our 
international organization, the deep internal crisis and 
factional fight which threatened the existence of the 
League, succeeded in liquidating the old factions as the 
resolution of the International Secretariat demanded, 
and in effecting a working political and organizational 
collaboration of the most responsible and influential 
comrades from all the former factions (Cannon, Shacht- 
man, Carter groups) — an accomplishment which alone 
made possible the fruitful progress of the past year and 
without which the League would have fallen victim to 
disintegration and splits and a complete impotence for 
the great tasks facing it. Without the liquidation of the 
old faction fight and the loyal collaboration of the lead- 
ing members of the National Committee from both sides 
on a political basis, such as has been effected during the 
past year, our three main accomplishments — the Min- 
neapolis strike, the launching of our theoretical organ, 
the work for fusion into a new party — would have been 

Above all, the convention establishes the fact that the 
policy and leadership of the National Committee has 
brought our organization today to the point of fusion 
with the American Workers Party on a satisfactory prin- 
cipled basis for the launching of the first party of the 
Fourth International — an event of the greatest interna- 
tional historical significance. 

II. On the negative side, the National Convention is 
obliged to register a series of defects and shortcomings 
on the part of the National Committee which require 
the criticism of the membership of the League: 

a. The Committee failed to attain a good and neces- 
sary collective work which would have made it possible 
for it and for the organization to react more promptly 
and effectively to situations and problems confronting 
it, tolerated individualistic methods, gave way to inter- 
nal dissension which at one time endangered the unity 
of the League and adversely affected its striking power; 

b. Throughout the six years of our existence, the 
leading Committee carried on the administrative work 
of the organization poorly and inefficiendy, failed to 
give the branches the necessary organizational and 
informational guidance, or else failed to give it in time; 



c. Adequate contact was not maintained between 
the National Committee and the membership, to the 
detriment of the work of both, so that the National 
Committee was not sufficiendy sensitive to the feelings 
and requirements of the membership and the latter was 
left without the necessary political aid in the solution of 
their problem and the organizational direction of their 

d. The Committee was especially lax in its interna- 
tional duties, failing to give the international organiza- 
tion sufficient information about the development and 
problems of the League, failing even to supply the 
International Secretariat with a minimum of material 
aid so imperative for its functioning; 

e. The National Committee was slow in reacting to 
events and issues, often giving its position after the 
event and in many cases failing to take a position at all. 
This sluggishness communicated itself to the member- 
ship and contributed to the development of tendencies 
towards passivity and routine in the organization. In 
addition, the NC gave inadequate attention and aid to 
our youth movement which was thus compelled to 
develop its activity largely by itself; 

f. In general the National Committee throughout 
the six years of the existence of our organization did not 
function as a rounded and well-organized collective 
leadership, which would have served enormously to 
consolidate the League and to enhance the prestige of 
the NC itself. The National Convention, therefore, 
demands of its leading body, individually and collec- 
tively, that it make a radical correction and improve- 
ment in its habits and methods of work, and above all 
that systematic collaboration, politically, and organiza- 
tionally, be established in the new party. 

III. The foregoing criticism is directed at the National 
Committee as a whole, not merely at its functioning 
members in the National office. Comrades Swabeck, 
Shachtman and Cannon, who carried the main politi- 
cal responsibility since the Second National Conven- 
tion and led the struggle for the political line of the 
League and who, together with Comrade Oehler, car- 
ried the entire burden of the administrative responsibil- 
ity for the National Committee, are herein specifically 
criticized for grave faults of commission and omission 
in the conduct of their work. 

But the other members of the National Committee — 
Abern, Spector, and Glotzer, Edwards (alternate), Mor- 
genstern (alternate), Dunne, Skoglund, and Coover 
(alternate) — each and every one of them must also be 
taken to account by the organization at this convention. 

As for Comrades Dunne, Skoglund and Coover — 
the convention declares that these comrades have 

conducted systematic and unremitting activity in the 
trade-union movement, have thereby brought credit 
and glory to our organization, not only on a national 
but on an international scale. At the same time, 
although far removed from the center and unable to 
function in it directly, they have at all times carried out 
their responsibilities as non-resident members and have 
given the center loyal support in its work. If they have 
not functioned direcdy in the center, it has not been 
because of a refusal on their part, but because they were 
not called upon to do so. As for Comrade Oehler the 
convention records that he carried out functions 
assigned to him by the NC, quitting private employ- 
ment on two occasions for this purpose and, in general 
collaborated with other functioning members of the 
NC. Even during the heated struggle between him and 
the majority of the NC over important and clearly 
defined political questions, a measure of responsible 
collaboration with him was possible. Against Comrade 
Oehler the convention records the fact that he formed 
a faction in the League despite the fact that normal 
democratic processes were never denied to him. 

As for Comrade Morgenstern who was elected at the 
last convention to the responsible position as an alternate 
to the National Committee, the Third Convention 
records the fact that his personal conduct was not in 
keeping with such a responsibility and called forth the 
severe censure of the National Committee and his simul- 
taneous resignation from it. Following that, his conduct 
in the Philadelphia organization and his entirely inade- 
quate personal activity deprived that organization of the 
political and organizational contribution which he owed 
to it and contributed heavily to impeding its growth. 

As for Comrades Abern, Glotzer, Spector and 
Edwards (alternate) — these comrades were guilty of 
greater derelictions than any other members of the 
Committee. Comrade Abern failed to collaborate with 
the other members of the National Committee in a 
comradely manner, although no political differences 
among them were discerned which would in any way 
justify the sharp and even poisonous antagonism which 
he continually engendered, even after the unanimous 
adoption of the resolution of the International Secre- 
tariat calling for a cessation of the old factional fight. 
He refused to take any kind of responsibility, either 
political or organizational, assigned to him by the 
National Committee. Even his present post was 
assumed by him, only after the most vigorous interven- 
tion of other Committee members who for months 
encountered his stubborn refusal. He stirred up antag- 
onism against the National Committee without any 
established political foundation. He absented himself 
regularly from general membership meetings at which 


the most serious problems of the League [were dealt 
with] , with or without excuse, and repeatedly and per- 
sistendy refused to speak for the League at public meet- 
ings, although constandy requested to do so by the 
New York organization. He gathered around himself a 
clique of discontented comrades without visible politi- 
cal grounds. His whole destructive, negative and spite- 
ful position is epitomized in his attitude towards the 
present convention, the final gathering of the organiza- 
tion at which a six-years' balance sheet is being drawn. 

Comrade Glotzer, who has been one of the most 
insistent critics of the most obvious shortcomings of the 
National Committee, failed to preserve his position as a 
responsible functionary, together with others, at the 
center, to which he had at first been summoned for the 
purpose of strengthening the weight, the collectivity, 
the functioning and the efficiency of the Resident 
Committee. As a member of the National Committee, 
having no serious differences with its political line and 
presenting none contrary to it, he nevertheless failed to 
maintain his solidarity with the Committee which, 
from a Bolshevik standpoint, would logically follow 
from such a relationship. Devoting himself mainly to 
criticism, in itself largely justified, he directed his 
attacks exclusively at those comrades who carried 
responsibilities and tried to function, even if poorly, 
while completely ignoring or shielding from all criti- 
cism the scandalous conduct of Abern with whom, 
indeed, he associated himself. At this convention, he 
even went so far as to associate himself with Abern, who 
has no right to speak at all on this matter, in a con- 
demnation of the functioning Committee members. 
He appeared at the convention not as a member of the 
National Committee with which he is presumably in 
political solidarity, but as a leading spokesman for a 
clique which includes Abern and which has no political 
platform of its own. 

Comrade Edwards, whose political knowledge and 
experience in the revolutionary and labor movements 
entided us to expect the political attitude of a leader, 

completely failed the National Committee in this 
respect, concerned himself with minor grievances, 
refuses to give the Resident Committee the solidarity 
and support which ought to follow from his member- 
ship on the National Committee and its agreement 
with its main line, and instead associates himself with 
the conduct of Comrade Glotzer and through him of 
Comrade Abern. In addition, he was far from measur- 
ing up to the activity on a local scale which the Chicago 
organization was entitled to receive from an alternate to 
the National Committee who has the political qualifi- 
cations of Comrade Edwards. 

Comrade Spector, even if excused from direct partic- 
ipation in the work of the Resident Committee, by 
virtue of his leadership and work in the Canadian 
section, nevertheless owed the Resident Committee the 
obligation of political solidarity and the influence of 
his prestige and personal relationships with other indi- 
vidual members to facilitate that loyal and comradely 
collaboration without which all talk of a collective lead- 
ership is a mockery. The convention regretfully estab- 
lishes the fact that Comrade Spector appears to have 
exerted his influence in a contrary direction, devoting 
himself to attacks on the Resident Committee shielding 
Abern from criticism and identifying himself with a 
clique against the National Committee which has no 
political platform or basis. 

IV. The convention condemns clique tendencies, per- 
sonal combinations, the shielding of individuals from 
just criticism, and the one-sided criticism of others cut 
of personal considerations and out-worn factional rem- 
iniscences. The convention categorically demands the 
dissolution of any clique or factional grouping and the 
consolidation of the entire League and of the entire 
leadership on the basis of the political decisions of this 

James P. Cannon 
Arne Swabeck 
Max Shachtman 

Appendix II 

Letter by Cannon to International Secretariat 

15 August 1935 

Dear Comrades: 

After too much delay — for which I acknowledge an 
inexcusable fault — I send you herewith a summary of 
our party situation. At the present moment the chief 
interest centers in the internal conflict, since the out- 
come of this conflict will determine the future course of 
the party and its capacity to utilize the great opportu- 
nities which are opening up before it. 

The differences and the groupings were recorded at 
the June Plenum, although not yet in completed form. 
The forthcoming September Plenum will define the 
issues still more clearly in preparation for the discussion 
which will precede the party convention in December. 

The system of ideas and methods worked out by our 
international movement and the cadres which have 
been assembled around them are put to a complicated 
test in our party struggle. This experience ought to be 
useful not only to us but also to the other sections 
which have yet to undertake a fusion with centrist ele- 
ments. At one and the same time we have to fight the 
sterile sectarians — conservative passivity masked by ver- 
bal intransigence — which cannot understand or recon- 
cile itself to the turn from a propaganda circle to polit- 
ical mass work, and a specific form of centrism 
represented by a part of the former AWP (Muste group) 
which is still far from understanding the Declaration of 
Principles which they signed jointly with us. We also 
have to contend with the unprincipled politics of the 
group of Weber and Glotzer who profess to agree with 
us on all the principled questions but always combine 
in one way or another with those who hold opposite 
opinions in order to fight what they call our "organiza- 
tional methods." Up until now these three groups have 
not been able to formulate a common resolution on a 
single political question, but in practice they work as a 
bloc against us on all the organizational questions. 

The different positions have been put before the 
membership for discussion. In the New York District, 
which comprises one-third of the party membership, 
there has been a thoroughgoing discussion which culmi- 
nated in the District Convention last weekend. Our ten- 
dency (Cannon-Shachtman resolutions) received a clear 
majority over the other three groups combined in elec- 
tions conducted on the basis of proportional representa- 
tion. We secured 20 delegates against seven for the Oeh- 

ler group and two for the Muste group. The Weber-Glot- 
zer group failed to elect a single delegate, having secured 
only twelve scattered votes in the branch elections. From 
reports we have received it appears that we will also have 
a decisive majority in the national organization. 

The Party Groupings 

Cannon-Shachtman group — Ours is the "orthodox" 
tendency which aims to apply the principles and tactics 
of the ICL as they are formulated in the Declaration of 
Principles without "modifications." We take the inter- 
national question as our point of departure, insist on 
close and loyal collaboration with the ICL in practical 
work, without unnecessary delay, for the building of the 
Fourth International. This attitude was concretized in 
the question of the Open Letter for the Fourth Interna- 
tional. We took a determined stand for the WP to sign 
the letter without putting any impossible conditions 
and without delaying the issuance of the letter unduly. 
In short, we construe the independence of the WP as a 
formal relationship which does not in any way change 
our fundamental political solidarity with the ICL. 

In the present deep ferment of the Socialist Party we 
see the possibility of crystallizing a serious left wing 
which, if it takes the right political line, can be brought 
to a break with the SP and a fusion with us. To this end 
we propose an active policy designed to aid this left 
socialist crystallization. To that end we devote consider- 
able space in our press to the crisis in the SP, direct a 
heavy fire against the centrist "Militants," strive to push 
the proletarian tendency forward to collision with them 
and, at the same time, strive to inoculate the left social- 
ists against Stalinism. We have had a good success with 
this latter and, in general, exert quite a little influence 
on certain strata of the left socialists. We are accused of 
preparing an entry of the WP into the Socialist Party. 
But this is not true at all. We simply do not want to 
leave the evolution of the left socialists to the well- 
known "historic process"; we want a policy of active 
intervention and an unremitting striving for corrections 
in the SP which can become the starting point for a 
fraction on the platform of the Fourth International 
and, consequendy, an eventual unification with us. As 
a part of this work we demand that the WP seize every 
opportunity for united-front actions and practical 
cooperation with the left socialists. 



Our group represents the basic cadres of the former 
Communist League plus a good section of the former 
AWP, including two members of the National Commit- 
tee — West and Ramuglia. These two comrades led the 
fight in the AWP for the fusion. West (Burnham) is the 
co-editor of the New International; Ramuglia is the pres- 
ident of the National Unemployed League, the principal 
mass organization under the leadership of the party. 

Muste group — The present position of this group rep- 
resents a relapse from the more-or-less consistendy pro- 
gressive position it took in uniting with us to form the 
WP and in cooperation with us in the first six months 
of the new party. In order to unite with us on a program 
of revolutionary Marxism, Muste had to break first with 
Hardman, a crude Menshevik who played a leading role 
in the AWP at its inception and exerted a corrupting 
influence in the proletarian elements in the ranks. Later 
came the withdrawal from the party of Budenz, Muste's 
closest co-worker in former times, because he despaired 
of being able to impose his nationalistic program on the 
party. After a few feeble protests against "Trotskyism" — 
the standard phobia of all opportunists — he left the 
party. Several others, none of them of any importance, 
followed him. The proletarian elements, including the 
highly qualified mass workers who had been personally 
attached to Budenz, remained with the party. During 
this period Muste took a consistent position and coop- 
erated closely with us. We, on our part, cooperated loy- 
ally with him and resisted the attempt of the Oehler 
group to convert the campaign against the "right wing," 
as they designated the Muste group, into a sport. We fol- 
lowed a deliberate policy of education and assimilation 
and thereby succeeded in isolating Budenz in the course 
of a few months. At the same time we presented a solid 
front with the Muste group against the sectarian and 
ultra-factional activities of the Oehler group. 

Muste broke with us suddenly, and without previous 
notice or any serious political reason, on the eve of the 
June Plenum. After having previously agreed (in corre- 
spondence from Toledo) with the proposal to sign the 
Open Letter for the Fourth International he began to 
invent objections and provisions for delay, rewriting, 
securing more signatures, etc., the purport of which 
could only be to delay the matter indefinitely. A study 
of the June Plenum resolutions on this question will be 
illuminating. On the question of the SP Muste took a 
position of unbridled radicalism reminiscent of the atti- 
tude taken by the right wing of the French Communist 
Party in regard to the united front in 1922. This 
brought him suddenly to a virtual bloc with the Oehler 
group, also reminiscent of the joint opposition of the 
right and the left to the united-front tactics in the early 
days of the Comintern. This right-about-face cost him 

the support of fully half of the former members of the 
AWP in New York where the plenum discussions were 
held openly before the membership. 

At bottom, however, the present position of Muste 
represents a yielding to the pressure of the conservative 
and even reactionary tendencies of some of the former 
AWP elements on the question of internationalism. 
The Budenz agitation still has echoes in the party. 
Budenz wants an American party which will abolish 
capitalism by the simple device of an amendment to 
the constitution (literally), at the same time he — God 
knows why — is fiercely opposed to any mention of the 
Socialist Party and has a horror of "Trotskyism" which 
is the way he spells internationalism. Muste — and 
this to be sure does him credit — has written a public 
criticism of Budenz in a series of articles in the New 
Militant and, from a formal standpoint, has complied 
with the provisions of our Declaration of Principles 
in regard to the work for the Fourth International. 
But since the June Plenum he has drawn farther away 
from us. 

He appears to see in the Oehler group a counter- 
weight to us and gives them more and more protection 
against our political attacks. Incidentally, he falls more 
and more into their position. This complicates the 
struggle against this group which is heading toward a 
break with the party. We do not find it possible to yield 
on the political questions, but we are careful to avoid 
any sharpening of the struggle with the Muste group 
and reiterate our readiness to resume the collaboration 
in joint leadership on the basis that obtained until 
Muste broke it off. We find it necessary, however, to 
wage the most uncompromising struggle against the 
Oehler group and also against the Weber group whose 
unprincipled combinationism corrupts the party and 
obstructs the work of assembling cadres of principled 
fighters. To our proposals for conciliation and collab- 
oration of the two main groups — our group and the 
Muste group — Muste counterposes a program of gen- 
eral conciliation of all the groups. In practice this 
results in a bloc of the three against us. We learned from 
the great teachers, and supplemented this instruction 
by our own experience, the folly of trying to reconcile 
the irreconcilable. With the Muste group alone it would 
be feasible to make practical compromises and conces- 
sions up to a certain point; with the Oehler group this 
would only deepen and aggravate the party conflict and 
cause it to reappear shortly in worse form. 

Oehler group — This group is an emanation of the 
international tendency thrown to the surface at the time 
of the French turn. It combines the hopeless formalism 
and sterility of Lhuillier and Vereecken with the treach- 
ery of Bauer. At one time in the early days after the fusion 


this group assumed threatening proportions in New 
York; it came forward as the "left wing," and it appeared 
to many comrades that we were following too careful and 
moderate a policy in dealing with the deviations of cer- 
tain elements of the former AWP, Budenz, etc. Since the 
issues have been brought into the open since the plenum, 
however, and we have taken the fight to the membership, 
the Oehler group has been shown up in its true colors. 
Its recruiting power has long since been lost, it has 
become isolated and has begun to break up. Two mem- 
bers of the group made an open break at the New York 
District Convention and revealed the split program of 
the leaders and also the fact that a large section of the 
group is against the split. They had gone so far as to make 
all the plans to publish a separate international bulletin 
of their own despite the fact that they have free access to 
the internal bulletin and the international bulletin of the 
party. According to the reports of the two comrades they 
expect to take about 100 comrades with them in the 
split, but 50 would be nearer the mark. 

They carry on an extremely provocative campaign of 
slander against the ICL, designating it as a capitulator to 
the Social Democracy, and argue formalistically, that 
since we support the French turn we must, willy-nilly, 
apply it in the same way here by entering the Socialist 
Party. They have 60 supporters in the New York District, 
almost entirely inexperienced people. In the rest of the 
country they have very little support. Their main cam- 
paign — since the defection of Muste, their sole cam- 
paign — is directed against the French turn and against 
the whole policy of the ICL. In their attacks on the ICL 
they deliberately calculate on the prejudices and con- 
cealed antagonism maintained by some of the Musteites 
to the internationalism of the Bolshevik-Leninists. 
Their agitation at the June Plenum and since, as well as 
the agitation of some of the Muste group, has had a 
decidedly reactionary tinge. Muste himself avoids any 
crude expressions along this line, but does not restrain it 
in his supporters. A recent motion brought forward in 
the Political Committee criticizing the New Militant 
for carrying too much international material had this 

The Oehler group had been inspired to a large extent 
by Bauer and falls into similar contradictions; it also 
exhibits the same lack of fundamental loyalty. Prior to 
the fusion the Oehlerites opposed it on the ground that 
we would be swallowed up by the centrists of the AWP; 
now they have no difficulty in allying themselves with 
the same centrists against us. In the first months of the 
fusion they waged an unrestrained campaign against 
the "right wing"; now they strive in every way to com- 
bine with them against us. To hear them talk and to 

read their faction material it would appear that there is 
just one real enemy of the international revolution — 
the "Trotskyists." 

Weber group — This group is more properly described 
as a clique which motivates itself in internal relations 
exclusively on a subjective personal basis. On the main 
issue of principle — the International question — they 
agree with us. In this dispute over the French turn they 
differed from us, in opposition to the Oehler group, only 
by their opportunist conception of "organic unity." As to 
the turn itself, the main question, they were for it and 
had no point of contact with the position of the Oehler 
group. Likewise, they supported the fusion with the 
AWP, after first opposing it and then later giving us half- 
hearted passive support against the Oehlerites who 
remained recalcitrant almost up to the last moment. In 
spite of that they made a bloc with .the Oehler group 
against us in the elections to the National Committee. 
This incident alone is sufficient to characterize this 
clique. In the Workers Party they continue the same kind 
of politics. 

For six months prior to the June Plenum they were 
unable to bring forward a single political proposal in 
opposition to ours; they did not even present a formu- 
lated criticism. At the plenum they supported our inter- 
national resolution for the prompt acceptance of the 
proposal to publish the Open Letter against that of 
Muste which meant unreasonable delay and the posi- 
tion of Oehler which meant an outright sabotage of the 
whole proposition. (Oehler's resolution proposed, as 
one of the "conditions" for acceptance, that the Open 
Letter contain a condemnation of the "new orientation 
of the ICL.") On the question of the Socialist Party 
they have differed from us only in the same sense as 
they differed on the French turn. They, like us, have put 
the question of entry or non-entry as a tactical ques- 
tion, rejecting Oehler's contention that it is a question 
everywhere of principle. But while we said decidedly 
that the French conditions do not apply here and that 
we must steer an independent course to a new party 
through fusion with the AWP, Weber's resolution prior 
to the last CIA convention implied a readiness to fol- 
low the French course in the U.S. 

Politically the Weber group has no position of its 
own; where they do not follow us they keep silent alto- 
gether. But on organization questions, among which 
they include such a trifle as the leadership of the party, 
they always combine with the other groups against us. 
At the present time they are at the point of forming a 
closer bloc with Muste. Meanwhile they maintain that 
they are the true Bolshevik- Leninists — 100 percent. 
The corrupting influence of such politics is all the more 


dangerous because the national secretary of the Sparta- 
cus Youth — Gould — belongs to this clique and applies 
these methods there. The result is that the Oehler ten- 
dency has an undue influence in the New York youth. 
The straight-out fight which is needed to educate the 
youth against this tendency is continually muddled and 
sabotaged and the youth are thrown into confusion by 
this unprincipled game. 

At the present time Weber and Glotzer agitate for 
"unity" as the main issue standing above the issues of 
principle and tactics involved in the party struggle. In 
doing so they obstruct to the full extent of their feeble 
powers the struggle to educate the party to the idea that 
the party unity must be established on a definite polit- 
ical basis. In the New York District elections the Weber- 
Glotzer group received a fraction more than five percent 
of the votes — a striking testimony to the long education 
of our cadres in the school of principled politics. 

Objective conditions for the advancement of the 
party are beginning to develop very favorably. At the 
present time there is to be seen a considerable improve- 
ment in the economic activity of the country with rum- 
blings of another, and probably deeper, strike move- 
ment. The threatened strike wave in the early part of 
the year was headed off by the labor bureaucracy in col- 
laboration with the Roosevelt administration. Our 
party played a very important role in the Toledo strike 
which, for a time, threatened to result in a general strike 
of the automobile industry. It appears that rationaliza- 
tion of industry during the crisis years has virtually can- 
celed out the effects of the rise in the economic con- 
juncture as far as employment is concerned. The 
number of the unemployed is still colossal — ten to fif- 
teen million. 

The prospects for the WP are gready improved by the 
swing of both the Stalinist party and the Socialist Party 
to the right. The CP is rapidly applying the new turn of 
the CI and is becoming the left wing of patriotic liber- 
alism. The Socialist Party has practically oudawed any 
opposition in its ranks to the theory of "democratic 
socialism," i.e., socialism by means of the ballot box. The 
sects which have broken with our international move- 
ment — Weisbord, Field, etc. — are reduced to complete 
isolation and impotence. 

Our party has approximately 1,000 members. An 
influx of new members following the fusion convention 
was followed by a lull, pardy to be attributed to the 
internal conflict. Now the beginning of a new expan- 
sion is to be seen — several new branches have been 

formed in the past month. We are still, for the most 
part, a propaganda circle. The left elements of the 
Socialist Party, especially since the sharp turn of the 
National Committee to the right, offer especially favor- 
able grounds for us. But they can be brought to our side 
only by means of a firm internationalist policy and a 
flexible tactic. As we see it, a small party such as ours, 
faced with rivals of the size of the CP and the SP, can 
hope to make headway only if it is hard and firm in 
principle and highly disciplined. 

We appreciate the value of unity and will do all we 
can to avoid a split. The best means to that end, in our 
opinion, is to conduct an aggressive and irreconcilable 
struggle against the sectarian tendency of the Oehler 
group which, combined with its disloyalty, is a menace 
to the party. Our aim is to isolate this tendency so that 
it will be unable to make a split of any serious propor- 
tions. This, it appears to us, has already been largely 

The question remains of the Muste group. As stated 
before, we are doing all we can to moderate the conflict 
with them and to allow time and experience to demon- 
strate the correctness of our position. We realized the 
value of the fusion, especially from the standpoint of 
our international movement, and were willing to pay 
"extra charges" for it on that account. But it would be 
folly, in our opinion, to pay the price of continuous 
instability of party policy and leadership. Muste has had 
no experience in a communist political movement. He 
has been accustomed to a loose organization in which 
conflicting policies and tendencies exist side by side, 
break out into open warfare, the differences are 
"patched up" by a compromise and then break out into 
the open again — and so on indefinitely. His "peace pro- 
posals" at the June Plenum were animated by this con- 
ception of organization. He, as well as Weber, counter- 
pose this policy to ours which they say is a split 

We admit that we do not make a principle of 
"unity," although we have no intention of taking the 
initiative for a split. Our interest is centered on the 
struggle to convince a majority of the party of the cor- 
rectness of our political line and to have it reflected in 
the composition of the leadership as a guarantee that it 
will be carried out in practice. We would not deprive 
the Oehler group of representation in the leadership if 
they accept the decisions of the majority and observe 
discipline in action. But we are emphadcally opposed 
to the idea of turning the party into a permanent dis- 
cussion circle which begins the discussion all over again 
after the convention as though nothing had happened. 

James P. Cannon 


Letter by Glotzer to International Secretariat 

20 November 1935 

Chicago, 111. 

Dear Comrades: 

My attention was drawn to a letter written by Com- 
rade Cannon to the I.S. which appeared in the Septem- 
ber Internal Bulletin, which letter purports to deal with 
the internal situation in the American party. I am com- 
pelled to write, not only because of the association of 
my name with that of Comrade Weber (which associa- 
tion I readily acknowledge), but more so because the 
letter of Comrade Cannon misrepresented the entire 
situation and falsely stated the disputes insofar as the 
Muste group and the Weber group are concerned. An 
additional reason for this letter is the fact that the com- 
munication of Cannon, which he says was purely pri- 
vate (even so, its contents are not justifiable) became a 
public matter. 

The obvious impression which it aimed to create 
by the letter is: The American party has four groups, 
one is an "orthodox" ICL group (Cannon-Shachtman); 
the other three (Muste, Weber and Oehler) are in union 
as an anti-Trotskyist and anti-ICL bloc. Had the Can- 
non letter concerned itself with the Oehler group, such 
a characterization would have been justified. But the 
creation of an amalgam of the three groups becomes a 
fiction, invented out of the whole cloth. In order to set 
the facts aright, it is necessary to state as briefly as pos- 
sible what were the relations of the groups prior to the 
October Plenum. I amplify these remarks with copies 
of the letters sent to LD. The contents of this letter will 
be further strengthened and confirmed by the commu- 
nications from the New York comrades. 

1. The June Plenum of our party observed four 
groups in existence. The party prior to the June Plenum 
had experienced a heated internal dispute with the 
Oehler group. The political motives behind this dispute 
lay in Oehler's persistent opposition to the French turn, 
and its international aspects. His group endeavored, in 
spite of the fact that the party had only just become 
organized and had not entered into a discussion period, 
to organize the party against the views of LD, the ICL 
and the French organization. He attempted to do that, 
naturally, on the basis of winning political support to 
his point of view. 

It is necessary to bear in mind at all times that our 
party is the result of a fusion with the AWP That sec- 
tion of the party had no real acquaintance with the 
French turn, the activities and policies of the ICL. The 
Oehler agitation was gaining ground simply because 

there was no counteracting influence in the party to 
this agitation. The Cannon group proceeded on the 
notion that it could solve the problem of the Oehler 
group without a necessary and thorough-going political 
discussion with the aim of the complete clarification of 
the party organization. It proceeded on the assumption 
that the way to liquidate the problem was simply 
through the medium of the expulsion of the Oehler 
group. That is the course it pursued. They sought to 
expel the Oehler group at the June 1935 Plenum of the 
party — that is, at a time when the party had not dis- 
cussed a single issue in dispute, at a time when a section 
of the party (the Muste group) was almost unaware of 
the political issues involved. Such a course would not 
and could not have clarified the political differences, 
would have (as was indicated at the June Plenum) alien- 
ated the Musteites, and permitted the exit of the Oehler 
group with about 200 followers (the support he 
claimed prior to the discussion in the party). 

The Muste group was, I dare say, somewhat bewil- 
dered by the events in the party. The Cannon group — 
with the position that the party could not then entertain 
political discussions, but must do practical work! (as if 
such a separation is feasible or conducive to the healthy 
life of the party) — proceeded to put it into practice by 
failing to discuss the burning international questions. 
The March Plenum took up the International question 
thru the "intervention" of LD in the form of a private let- 
ter to Cannon suggesting that the WP enter into frater- 
nal relations with the ICL. There was no difficulty on 
this score. The former AWP members on the NC read- 
ily accepted the proposal and belied the fear of the Can- 
non group that we must not move too fast! (as if the 
question of speed was involved) since the Musteites 
would not be assimilated quickly. Between March and 
June, again a period of no action, no discussion, etc. on 
international questions, except in the bad form that it 
was raised by the Oehler group. The arrival of the Open 
Letter compelled the leadership to concern itself once 
more with the International question. 

At the June Plenum, three questions presented them- 
selves on the above. The Cannon resolution called for 
unequivocal support of the Open Letter. This position 
supported and thereby enabled it to obtain a majority in 
the plenum. The Muste group, while supporting the 
Open Letter, as a result of their incomplete knowledge 
of the situation and the confusion created by the Oeh- 
ler group, took a position which involved some delay in 
the publication of the Open Letter (they wished to seek 


more signatures, etc.). The Oehler group introduced a 
resolution denouncing the ICL, the French turn, etc., 
making such proposals as would render the Open Letter 
impossible. Our group took one step further than Can- 
non. We foresaw that the party would have to concern 
itself with the issues in dispute, that it would be neces- 
sary for it to discuss the French turn, the other interna- 
tional questions and the issue of the Fourth International 
in order to put an end to the agitation of the Oehlerites 
and to render a decisive political defeat to that group. 
While supporting the Cannon resolution, we introduced 
a supplementary statement (signed by Weber, Satir and 
Glotzer) which dealt specifically with the French turn 
and called for its support by the party (more evidence of 
an anti-ICL position!!). In presenting this statement we 
declared it our intention to begin the discussion on the 
political differences existing on the international ques- 
tions and the aim to win the party to the support of the 
ICL. What should have the Cannon group done? It 
should have declared its support of our declaration. 
Instead it turned its heaviest attack on us. We could not 
accept their support of the ICL as being of the best kind, 
nor sufficient by any stretch of the imagination. Their 
arguments: the Weber group could not support the Can- 
non group, the Weber group had to present its own state- 
ment, the Weber group was a clique! And for what? 
Because we declared it necessary for the party to record 
itself on the disputed questions and because we declared 
it necessary for the party to support the ICL and the 
French turn, and proceeded to oudine the reasons why. 
We had an additional reason for issuing that statement: 
to attempt to put the real issues before the Musteites in 
order to counteract the Oehler agitation. The Cannon 
group, instead of joining with us in this endeavor, turned 
around and attacked us for it. 

A brief word on "history." The Cannon letter 
declared falsely that the Weber group formed a sort 
of opposition to the fusion. The Weber group consti- 
tuted itself only immediately before the CLA convention 
(November 1934) and at the convention. It is also stated 
that the Weber group made a bloc with the Oehler group 
at that time. The bloc consisted in this: Oehler's agree- 
ment to vote for Weber as a member of the National 
Committee and the rights of all viewpoints to be repre- 
sented on the NO It was revealed in the discussions at 
the CLA convention that the Cannon group had pro- 
posed a bloc to Oehler in order to fight the Weber group, 
with whom they were in supposed political agreement. 
The tone to our relations with the Cannon group was set 
by Shachtman, then a new spokesman for the Cannon 
group, who in his closing remarks at the convention 
stated: We can collaborate with the Oehler group but we 
cannot collaborate with the Weber group! 

2. Then followed the question of orientation to the 
Socialist Party in America. We had sufficient basis to 
believe that the Cannon group had the perspective of 
the WP entering the SPUSA They made no effort to 
clarify their own position. Their previous actions, their 
speeches and private conversations only confirmed this 
belief. The resolution introduced by them, coupled 
with their former actions, only made their position all 
the more ambiguous. And it was necessary, particularly 
because of the agitation of the Oehler group to the 
effect that Cannon was preparing the WP for entrance 
into the SP because he supported the French turn, to 
speak out clearly. For the Oehlerites, anyone who sup- 
ported the French turn must inevitably end up in the 
SP. The Cannon group would not budge from its posi- 
tion and we presented our own resolution. It was brief 
and to the point. It rejected an SP orientation and 
declared for the independent existence of the WP, the 
organization of the party work under this conception, 
and similarly, the organization of effective work in the 
SP. Muste likewise had his own resolutions, and the 
Oehler group had their own sectarian position. No res- 
olution carried. The question was not settled at the ple- 
num nor was clarification obtained in this meeting of 

3. And finally the question of the internal situation. 
Here was revealed the whole approach of the Cannon 
group to the deep political disputes. As I already stated 
above, the Cannon group sought to settle these differ- 
ences simply by the expulsion of the Oehler group. That 

-the method of organizational liquidation of 


political disputes prior to discussion and clarification — 
was rejected. The party was on the border of split at the 
plenum. We rejected organizational measures against the 
Oehler group in order to prevent him from raising the 
cry of "bureaucratic persecution" prior to a discussion, 
and in order to begin the political discussions without 
the stigma of such organizational measures, so that the 
discussion could proceed freely without any taint. We felt 
certain that a discussion would decimate the ranks of the 
Oehlerites and had nothing to fear from such a discus- 
sion. We felt that it was necessary to win the party ideo- 
logically. That is why we rejected the Cannon course, 
which would have meant without a doubt a split in the 
party. The Muste group supported our position and 
Muste himself adduced evidence, in the form of a letter 
from Cannon, that their intention was to expel Oehler 
at the June Plenum and to settle the disputes in that 

4. From all of this, briefly as I have stated the facts as 
they were, Cannon deduces his bloc! And what really 
happened? Between the June and October Plenums 
the party entered a protracted period of discussion. The 


Oehler group, as we forecasted, suffered blow after blow 
in the discussion. They lost heavily. In the meantime our 
group, instead of trying to build a large faction, deemed 
it more important to win the leadership of the former 
AWP to our point of view on the French turn. While the 
Cannon group was charging up and down the party [that 
there was] an anti-Trotskyist bloc of Muste- Weber- 
Oehler (a dishonest method as it was sure to drive Muste 
to Oehler, if it were not for our intervention), we carried 
on discussions with Muste and his comrades. The result? 
We succeeded in arriving at agreement on all the polit- 
ical questions facing the party, destroying the possibility 
of any bloc between the Muste and the Oehler groups, 
and thereby winning a most important section of the 
party to the French turn. That accomplished, a joint 
statement was drawn up in support of the French turn, 
signed by Muste, Weber, Johnson, Lore, Satir, Gould and 
Glotzer (and supported by McKinney with a statement). 
We presented this statement to the PC in response to its 
invitation that all resolutions be prepared and presented 
to the PC. It became the first document for the October 
Plenum and setded finally the questions: what would the 
Muste group do. 

In the meantime the friendly advice of LD helped 
considerably to liquidate, at least for the October Ple- 
num, any SP orientation; to solve the internal relations 
among all anti-Oehlerites in the party, so that they might 
collaborate in the fight against the latter. What made it 
possible that the three groups could collaborate at the 
October Plenum was agreement on the International 
question, agreement on the party-building resolution, 
the war question and finally the internal situation. 

When presented with our French turn resolution, 
Cannon signified his intention of supporting it. For the 
October Plenum, his group drew up another resolution 
on the International question dealing with the contact 
commission, etc. We agreed with it. Cannon was ready 
to make our French turn resolution the document of 
the majority of the PC. At the plenum, however, they 
could not find it possible to vote for our resolution and 
instead introduced a substitute, making it basic mate- 
rial for another resolution to be more comprehensive 
and to deal with Belgium, Spain, Chile, etc. We re- 
garded their refusal to vote for our French turn resolu- 
tion as an example of their factional pride and nothing 
else. Having come to agreement on the party-building 
resolution and the war question we were able to con- 
front the Oehler group with a politically united plenum 
against their point of view and thus be able to demand 
of them to cease breaking party discipline, to accept the 
decisions of the plenum, to refrain from taking the 
party disputes outside of the party; if not, then they 
were liable for expulsion. 

Following the October Plenum, the Oehler group, 
already proceeding on the basis that it could not remain 
in the party, began to sell its illegal bulletins publicly 
from the newsstands, attacked the party at its mass 
meetings and finally arranged its own mass meetings. 
The break with them is now consummated. They have 
at the most 75 members nationally, adult and youth. 
They are losing support daily. 

5. In view of what transpired how is it possible to 
reconcile events to the Cannon letter? There was never 
a bloc between us and Oehler. Our existence was based 
on our profound differences with the Cannon group 
and with all others. We fought for a point of view in the 
party, and I think very successfully. Now the party has 
reached a concord on the main political questions 
which were disputed up until October. It is possible to 
unite the party for work. If what the Cannon letter 
stated [were true] — that Muste was moving toward the 
conservative elements and turned his back toward his 
left development; that we were a clique of an unprinci- 
pled kind, in a bloc with the anti-Trotskyists — the 
achievements of the October Plenuni would never have 
been possible. The Cannon letter was a lie from begin- 
ning to end. It misrepresented the facts of our party. It 
tried to create an amalgam — a practice which is very 
shoddy and should be left to its inventors. And now the 
letter is torn to shreds by the events. 

An example of what I mean. The letter states or 
insinuates that the Oehlerites gained strength in the 
Spartacus Youth organization because of the role of 
Comrade Nathan Gould, National Secretary of the 
Spartacus Youth League, who is a member of our group. 
First of all, Comrade Gould was on a three-month 
national tour, initiated shortly after the outbreak of the 
struggle in New York. Up until the time Gould left on 
his tour, not only was the SYL experiencing very good 
growth, but the Oehlerites' following could be counted 
on one hand. At that time Gould was even successful in 
breaking Comrade Streeter (the only NC member of 
the SYL who supported Oehler) from supporting the 
Oehler group in the party. Streeter returned to the Oeh- 
ler fold only after Gould left for his tour. 

Following the June Plenum, Gould fell ill, was in an 
auto accident together with other plenum delegates and 
spent a good portion of time in the hospital. During his 
long absence the Cannonite representatives among the 
young were in charge and during that period the Oeh- 
lerites made their gains in the youth organization in 
New York. Only when Gould returned to his post did 
that trend cease. It is generally acknowledged too that 
during his absence from the Center the SYL work seri- 
ously declined and again experienced progress and 
growth upon his return. 


We might further point out that recently Gould was 
sent by the Secretariat of the Workers Party to Chicago 
to combat the Oehlerites (this was on the eve of their 
split from the WP). Gould was most instrumental in 
reducing the Oehlerite following in the SYL there to 

In passing I may mention that the party representa- 
tive to the Youth during all this time was Comrade 
Shachtman. Is it too much to suggest that he was in a 
position to check Oehlerist tendencies in the Youth, 

but quite obviously did not? 

What now? That remains to be seen. The October 
Plenum liquidated the Oehler group. On the basis of the 
agreements arrived at in New York, it should be possible 
to unite the party so that it may be able to carry out its 
mountainous tasks. On our part, we intend to do every- 
thing possible to help the party accomplish the above. I 
shall endeavor to keep you informed from time to time 
as to developments in this country. 

Albert Glotzer 

Appendix III 

National Committee of the Workers Party U.S. 

December 1934 

Full Members 

From CLA 

James R Cannon 
Vincent Dunne 
Albert Glotzer 
Sam Gordon 
Morris Lewit 
Hugo Oehler 
Norman Satir 
Max Shachtman 
Carl Skoglund 
Tom Stamm 
Arne Swabeck 

From AWP 

Gerry Allard 
J. D. Arrington 
Louis Budenz 
James Burnham 
H. Howe 
A Johnson 
Karl Lore 
Ernest McKinney 
A J. Muste 
A Ramuglia 
W. Truax 

Alternate Members 

Louis Basky 
George Clarke 
Jack Weber 

L. Breier 
L. Heimbach 
Ted Selander 



Abern, Martin (1898-1949) Joined SP youth, 1912; SP, 
1915; IWW, 1916; founding American Communist, on 
Central Executive Committee almost continuously from 
1920; national sectetary of CP youth, 1922-24; CP 
Chicago ot ganizet, 1 924-26; ILD assistant national sec- 
retary, 1926-28; delegate to CI Fourth Congress, and to 
YCI Second Congress where elected to YCI Executive, 
1922; member of CP's Cannon faction; expelled from 
CP in 1928 for Trotskyism; CLA National Committee 
1929-34; a leader of Shachtman faction in 1931-33 
fight; continued cliquist opposition to Cannon there- 
after; member WPUS, 1934-36; entered SP with Trot- 
skyists, 1936-37; founding member of SWP and on NC 
1938-40; split from Trotskyist movement with Shacht- 
man in 1940; elected to NC of Shachtmanite WP, 1940; 
remained in WP until his death. 

American W>rkers Party (AWP) Successor organization 
to CPLA; founded as Provisional Organizing Commit- 
tee for the American Workers Party in December, 1 933; 
led by A J. Muste; AWP and affiliated unemployed 
leagues led successful Toledo Auto-Lite strike, spring 
1934; fused with CLA to form WPUS, December 1934. 
Basky, Louis (1882-1938) Veteran of 1919 Hungarian 
Revolution; emigrated to U.S. and became leader of CP's 
Hungarian Federation in 1920s; he and a group of sup- 
porters, expelled from CP in 1927-28, were indepen- 
dendy won to Trotskyism by Russian Oppositionists in 
New York; founding member of CLA; co-opted briefly 
to CLA National Committee, 1932; founding member 
of WPUS; expelled with Oehlerites in late 1935; found- 
ing member Revolutionary Workers League (RWL); 
expelled from RWL with Stamm in March 1938. 
Bauer, Eugen (b. 1906) Joined Young Communists in 
Berlin, 1926; head of the Left Opposition in Saxony; 
member of ILO International Secretariat, 1932-33; 
leader of clandestine ILO section in Germany, 1933; 
opposed French turn and broke with ILO, 1934; later 
joined centrist SA.P. 

Budenz, Louis (1891-1972) Editor of Labor Age, 
1921-33; founding member CPLA and its first national 
secretary, 1929; AWP 1933-34; part of AWP right 
wing, opposed fusion with CLA; joined CP in October 
1935, following its adoption of the popular-front pol- 
icy, managing editor of CP's Daily Worker, 1940-45; 
broke with communist movement, 1945, and returned 
to Roman Catholicism; by October 1946 became fer- 
vent anti-communist, appeared as government witness 
in numerous proceedings and in Smith Act trials. 
Burnham, James (1905-1986) (Pseudonym: John 
West) Philosophy professor, New York University; influ- 
enced by Sidney Hook, joined Musteite AWP; founding 

member WPUS and member National Committee, 
1 934-36; co-editor with Shachtman of New Interna- 
tional, 1934-40; entered SP with Trotskyists, 1936-37; 
founding member of SWP and on NC 1938-40; ideo- 
logical leader of SWP minority in 1939-40 faction fight; 
broke with Marxism altogether and resigned from 
Shachtman's WP, May 1940; became prominent Cold 
Warrior in late 1940s; founding editorial board member 
of right-wing National Review, 1955. 
Cannon, James Patrick (1890-1974) Joined SP in 
1908; quit SP in 191 1 and joined IWW; IWW agitator 
and organizer throughout Midwest, 1912-14; active 
in Kansas City IWW, 1914-19; joined pro-Bolshevik 
SP Left Wing, 1919; founding American Communist 
and chairman of first legal Communist party 1921-23; 
in Moscow 1922-23, serving on Presidium of the Com- 
munist International June- November 1922; CP Cen- 
tral Executive Committee, 1920-28; won to Trotskyism 
at Sixth CI Congress in summer 1928, expelled in 
October for his views; founding leader of CLA, 1929; 
remained principal leader and member of National 
Committee of American Trotskyist organizations for 
next 25 years; retired as SWP National Secetary in 
1953, but remained National Chairman until his 

Carter, Joe (1910-1970) Member SP youth, 1924; 
joined Communist youth, 1928; founding member of 
CLA; leader of SYL and editorial board member, Young 
Spartacur, supporter of Shachtman faction in 1931-33 
fight; founding member of WPUS and on National 
Committee, 1936; founding member of SWP and 
alternate member of NC, 1938-40; split from Trotsky- 
ist movement with Shachtman, 1940; a leading mem- 
ber of Shachtman's WP in 1 940s; left Shachtmanites in 
early 1950s. 

Communist International (CI, or Comintern) Also 
known as Third International. International revolu- 
tionary organization founded on Lenin's initiative in 
Moscow, 1919; national Communist parties were sec- 
tions of the International. Underwent degeneration 
after 1923 as Stalin faction consolidated control of 
Soviet state; dissolved by Stalin in 1943. 
Communist League of America (CLA) Organization 
of American Trotskyists, 1929-34; published newspaper 
Militant; launched theoretical journal New Interna- 
tional, July 1934; fused with Muste's AWP to form 
WPUS, December 1934. 

Communist Party (CP) Used generically to refer to 
the American Communist movement. Two Commu- 
nist groups split from the American Socialist Party (SP) 
in 1919; one was the Communist Labor Party (CLP), 



the other was the Communist Party of America (CPA); 
the various American Communist groups fused in the 
early 1920s under the urging of the Comintern. In 
1921, the Workers Party (WP) was launched as the 
legal arm of the still-underground CP; it changed its 
name to the Workers (Communist) Party in 1925; in 
1929 it reverted to the name Communist Party. 
Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA) 
Founded in 1929 by A. J. Muste; heterogeneous for- 
mation encompassing leftward-moving workers and 
unemployed leagues; changed name to AWP, December 
1933 (see also entry for AWP). 

Edwards, John Member SP left wing in Michigan, 
1919; founding member American Communist move- 
ment; delegate to YCI Second Congress, 1922; attended 
Fifth Comintern Congress, 1924; member brickmakers 
union in Chicago; expelled from CP 1928; founding 
member of CLA and alternate on National Committee, 
1931-34; close collaborator of Glotzer in Chicago, 1932- 
34; made pretense of being in separate "Chicago 
group," but supported Shachtman faction on all essen- 
tials in 1931-33 fight. 

Field, B. J. (1900-1977) Joined CLA, 1931; expelled 
for violating discipline, 1 932; visited Trotsky in Turkey, 
1932; regained CLA membership, 1933; expelled for 
violating party discipline during 1934 New York hotel 
strike; later formed League for a Revolutionary Work- 
ers Party which published New International Bulletin 
irregularly from October 1935 to March 1937; follow- 
ing expulsion of Field, the LRWP vanished. 
French Turn Tactic of entry into Social Democratic 
parties, advocated by Trotsky for France in late 1934; 
subsequendy applied to other countries internationally. 

Glotzer, Albert (1908-1999) Joined CP youth, 1923; 
leader of Chicago CP District; CP youth national exec- 
utive, 1927-28; supporter of CP's Cannon faction; 
expelled from CP for Trotskyism in 1928; founding 
CLA member and on National Committee, 1929-34; 
supporter of Shachtman faction in 1931-33 fight; 
founding member of WPUS and on NC, 1934-36; 
member of Abern- Weber clique; entered SP with Trot- 
skyists 1936-37; founding member of SWP and on 
NC, 1938-40; split from Trotskyist movement with 
Shachtman in 1940; leader of Shachtmanite WP/ISL; 
liquidated with Shachtman into SP-SDF, 1958. 
Gould, Nathan Joined SYL in Chicago, early 1930s; 
member SYL National Committee, and by 1935 SYL 
national secretary; founding member of WPUS, 1934; 
entered SP with Trotskyists 1936-37; became secretary 
of Chicago YPSL, 1936; founding member of SWP; 
was delegate with Cannon and Shachtman at founding 
conference of Fourth International in September 1938; 

SWP NC 1939-40; split from Trotskyist movement 
with Shachtman in 1940; departed Shachtmanite ISL 
around 1954. 

Hook, Sidney (1902-1989) Student of John Dewey and 
professor of philosophy department at New York Uni- 
versity, 1933-70; best known as author of Towards the 
Understanding of Karl Marx (1933) and From Hegel to 
Marx (1936); leader of Muste's AWP, 1933-34; retired 
from the AWP after giving approval to fusion with CLA; 
active in campaign to defend Leon Trotsky against 
Moscow Trial charges, 1937; by 1940 broke entirely with 
Marxism and socialism; by 1950s was anti-communist 
and ardent Cold Warrior. 

Independent Socialist Party (OSP — Onafhankelijke 
Socialistische Partij) Organization formed from left- 
wing split from the Dutch Social Democratic Labor 
Party in 1932; signer of "Declaration of Four," 1933. 
Industrial Workers of the World (1WW) Founded in 
1905 as a revolutionary industrial union movement; 
declined in the aftermath of WWI and the Russian 

International Labor Defense (ILD) Organization 
created by the CP in 1925 to organize united-front 
defense for class-war prisoners regardless of political 
affiliation; led by James P. Cannon from 1925 to 1928; 
dissolved in 1946. 

International Left Opposition (ILO) International 
organization of Trotskyists, 1929-33; changed name to 
the International Communist League in August 1933 
when Trotskyists ceased to function as an expelled fac- 
tion of the Communist International and embarked on 
struggle to form new revolutionary workers parties and 
a new International. 

Lewit, Morris (1903-1998) (Also known by pseudo- 
nym, Morris Stein) Participant as youth in Russian 
Revolution; emigrated to New York, 1920; founding 
member Communist youth, 1 922; supporter of CP's 
Foster faction; along with his life-long companion, 
Sylvia Bleeker, became sympathetic to views of Trotsky's 
Left Opposition; expelled from CP, joined CLA, 1930; 
edited CLA's Yiddish-language Unser Kampf; supporter 
of Shachtman faction in 1931-33 fight; he and Shacht- 
man went over to collaboration with Cannon in 1934; 
founding member of WPUS and on National Com- 
mittee, 1934-36; entered SP with Trotskyists, 1936-37; 
founding member of SWP and on NC, 1938 through 
the early 1960s; served as SWP acting national secretary 
following imprisonment of SWP leaders under Smith 
Act convictions, 1943-45. 

Lhuillier, Rene (1909-1968) Secretary of the CGT's 
hairdressers' union, entered the French Communist 
Party in 1928; later affiliated with the French section of 


ILO; opposed the French turn on principle, 1934; 
eventually entered SFIO and remained there even after 
the French Trotskyists were expelled. 

MacDonald, Jack (1888-1941) Leader of 1919 
Toronto metal workers strike and Ontario labor leader; 
co-founder with Maurice Spector of Canadian Com- 
munist Party, 1921; represented Canadian CP at Fourth 
Congress of Comintern, 1922; although he acquiesced 
when Spector was purged for Trotskyism in 1 928, he was 
himself expelled in 1931; declared for ILO in 1932 and 
joined CLA's Toronto branch; retired from active polit- 
ical work in 1936, but remained committed to Marxism 
until his death in November 1941. 

McKinney, Ernest Rice (1886-1984) Joined SP 
around 1910 and the NAACP in 1911; worked with 
W E. B. DuBois to form an NAACP branch at Ober- 
lin College; member CP, 1920-26; founding Musteite 
and leader of CPLA/AWP 1929-34; founding member 
of WPUS and on National Committee, 1934-36; 
entered the SP with the Trotskyists, 1936-37; founder 
of SWP and on NC, 1938-40; split from Trotskyist 
movement with Shachtman, 1940; trade-union direc- 
tor in Shachtman's WP; in 1946 ran as WP candidate 
for Congress in Harlem; quit Shachtmanites in 1950. 

Muste, Abraham Johannes (1885-1967) Ordained as 
minister in the Reformed Church in 1909; pacifist in 
WWI, became national committeeman of the ACLU; 
leader of the textile worker strikes in Paterson, NJ and 
Lawrence, MA in 1919; became director of Brookwood 
Labor College in 1921; founder and principal leader of 
CPLA/AWP 1929-34; WPUS National Committee 
and national secretary, 1934-36; opposed entry of Trot- 
skyists into the SP in 1936 and returned to religion and 
pacifist activism; established the American Forum for 
Socialist Education in late 1950s, attempting to broker 
a regroupment among socialists; active opponent of 
U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam at time of death. 

Oehler, Hugo (1903-1983) CP District Organizer in 
Kansas City in 1920s; supporter of CP's Cannon fac- 
tion; won to views of the Left Opposition following 
Cannon's expulsion; remained undercover in the CP for 
a year; helped lead CP work in 1 929 Gastonia, North 
Carolina, textile strike; joined CLA in June 1930; CLA 
National Committee 1931-34; supporter of Cannon in 
1931-33 fight; in 1934 began sectarian opposition, 
attempting to obstruct fusion with AWP and opposing 
French turn; founding member of WPUS and on NC, 
1934-35; expelled in October 1935; founding leader of 
Revolutionary Workers League 1935-41; went to Spain 
and was active in Spanish Revolution, 1937; ceased to 
be RWL leader when he moved to Denver, 1941; RWL 
disappeared in 1950s. 

OSP See Independent Socialist Party 
Resident Committee The name Shachtman uses for 
the CLA's equivalent of a Political Committee. The 
body was composed of all members of the National 
Committee resident in New York City. 
Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP — Revolutionair- 
Socialistische Partij) Dutch Trotskyist organization 
formed in 1929 by ex-members of the Communist 
Party; led by Henricus Sneevliet; signer of "Declaration 
of Four" in August 1933; joined ICL in 1933; fused 
with OSP and became Revolutionary Socialist Workers 
Party (RSAP) in 1935; broke with movement for the 
Fourth International in 1938. 

Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (RSAP — 
Revolutionair-Socialistische Arbeiderspartij) Dutch 
Trotskyist Party formed by the merger of the RSP and 
OSP in March 1935. 

Salutsky (Hardman), J. B. (1882-1968) Joined Jew- 
ish Bund in 1902 and participated in 1905 Russian 
Revolution; emigrated to U.S., 1909; secretary of the 
SP's Jewish Federation, 1912-13 and editor of Di Naye 
Welt, 1914-20; opposed SP Left Wing in 1919 and pre- 
vented Jewish Federation from going over to CP; broke 
with SP in 1921 and helped form Workers Council 
which then fused with Communists; CP Central Exec- 
utive Committee 1921-23; expelled from CP in 1923 
for publicly criticizing the party in his paper, the Amer- 
ican Labor Monthly; leading member of Muste's 
CPLA/AWP in early 1930s; strongly opposed the 
fusion with the CLA in 1934 and quit the movement 
shortly afterward; education director of the Amalga- 
mated Clothing Workers Union, 1920-40 and editor of 
its journal Advance, 1940-44; having added Hardman 
to his last name in 1924, he is known as Salutsky, Hard- 
man or Salutsky- Hardman in the period relevant to this 

Satir, Norman Member of Chicago CLA; supporter of 
Shachtman faction in 1931-33 fight; founding member 
of WPUS and on National Committee 1934-36; mem- 
ber of Abern- Weber clique; entered SP with Trotskyists 
1936-37; founding member of SWP; split from Trot- 
skyist movement with Shachtman in 1940. 
Shachtman, Max (1904-1972) Joined CP in 1921 as 
member of Workers Council; leader of Communist 
youth work, 1923-27; editor of ILD's Labor Defender, 
1925-28; alternate member of Central Executive 
Committee, 1927-28; supporter of CP's Cannon faction; 
expelled for Trotskyism in 1928; founding member 
of the CLA and on National Committee, 1929-34; 
editor of U.S. Trotskyist publications, including Militant 
and New International; entered SP with Trotskyists, 
1936-37; founding SWP member and on NC 1938-40; 


split from Trotskyist movement in 1940 in opposition 
to Trotskyist position of unconditional military defense 
of the Soviet Union; founding member and leader 
ofWorkers Party and its 1949 successor, the Independent 
Socialist League (ISL); led liquidation of ISL into SP- 
SDF, 1958; became member of Democratic Party and 

Socialist Party of France (SFIO — Section Francaise 
de rinternationale Ouvriere) French section of the 
reformist Second International. 

Socialist Workers Party of Germany (S.A.P. — 
Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands) Formed 
in October 1931 by left-wing group expelled from Ger- 
man Social Democratic Party; in 1932, acquired a 
group which split from the Brandlerite German Right 
Opposition and which subsequently assumed leader- 
ship of the S A.P.; one of the signers of "The Declara- 
tion of Four," August 1933; later moved to the right 
and opposed formation of the FI. 
Spartacus Youth League (SYL) Youth group of the 
CLA; began publication of Young Spartacus in Decem- 
ber 1931. 

Spector, Maurice (1898-1968) Founder of Canadian 
CP, 1921; served as national chairman, 1924-28; pri- 
vately sympathized with Trotskyist opposition from 
1924; delegate to CI Sixth Congress in 1928 and 
elected to ECCI; in Moscow he and Cannon made a 
private pact to build support for Trotsky back home; 
expelled from Canadian party in late 1928; founding 
member of CLA and member National Committee, 
1929-34; supporter of Shachtman faction in 1931-33 
fight; leader of separate organization of Canadian 
Trotskyists formed in 1934; elected to WPUS NC, 
1936; SWP NC 1938-39; resigned from the movement 
in 1939. 

Stamm, Tom Joined CLA October 1930; supporter of 
Cannon faction in the 1931-33 fight; circulation direc- 
tor of CLA's Militant, part of Oehler faction 1934-35; 
member WPUS National Committee 1934-35; 
expelled with Oehler in late 1935; a leader of Oehler's 
Revolutionary Workers League (RWL); expelled with 
Basky from RWL in 1938; formed organization, also 
called RWL, which published Revolt from March 1938 
to January 1940. 

Sterling, Max Joined CP youth, 1927; supporter of 
Lovestone faction; expelled for Trotskyism in 1930; 
joined CLA; supporter of Shachtman faction in 1931-33 
fight; member of the Abern-Weber clique; member 
WPUS 1934-36; went with Muste to visit Trotsky in 
Norway, summer 1936; subsequendy went to Spain and 
sent reports on Civil War to Trotskyist press; founding 
member, SWP; split from Trotskyist movement with 

Shachtman, 1940; member of Shachtman's WP and 
leader of Bay Area branch; left WP after WWII. Known 
later as Mark Sharron. 

Swabeck, Arne (1890-1986) Joined SP left wing, 1916; 
editor of SP's Scandinavian Federation weekly press; 
IWW member, 1918-20; one of the leaders of 1919 Seat- 
de general strike; joined CP, 1920; delegate to CI Fourth 
Congress in 1922, represented American CP on the 
ECCI; member of CP's Cannon faction; expelled for 
Trotskyism in 1928; founding member of CLA and 
member of National Committee, 1929-34; founding 
member of WPUS and on NC, 1934-36; entered SP 
with Trotskyists, 1936-37; founding member of SWP 
and NC member, 1938-67; began to advocate political 
support to Mao's Chinese Stalinists in late 1950s; 
expelled from the SWP, 1967; briefly a member of Pro- 
gressive Labor Party in late 1960s. 

Weber, Jack (b. 1896) (Pseudonym of Louis Jacobs) 
Joined CIA in 1930; supporter of Shachtman faction in 
1931-33 fight; founding member WPUS 1934-36; 
spokesman for Abern clique, 1934-36; alternate member 
of WPUS National Committee 1934-36; supported SP 
entry and broke with Abern, 1936; founding member of 
SWP and NC member, 1938 through at least 1940; left 
SWP in 1944; contributed three articles to the Shacht- 
manite New International in 1946-47, but does not 
appear to have actually joined Shachtman's WP. 

Weisbord, Albert (1900-1977) SP youth leader, 1921- 
24; joined CP, 1924; organizer of heroic Passaic strike, 
1 926-27; supporter of CP's Lovestone faction; expelled 
with Lovestone, 1929; advocated unity of Trotskyists 
and Lovestoneites; founded Communist League of 
Struggle (CLS), 1931; tried to gain entry into ILO but 
was never accepted; visited Trotsky in Prinkipo, 1932; 
worked with centrist POUM in Spain, 1937; dis- 
banded CLS, 1937. 

West, John See James Burnham. 

Young Communist International (YCI) International 
organization of the youth groups of the Communist 
parties of the Comintern. 

Zack, Joseph (1897-1963) Founding American 
Communist, 1919; led work of the CP in Harlem; sup- 
porter of CP's Foster faction, elected to the Central 
Executive Committee in 1927; attended Lenin School 
in Moscow, 1927-30; led the CP's Trade Union Unity 
League in New York but developed differences when 
the CP abandoned Third Period dual-unionism policy, 
expelled from the CP in 1934; briefly a member of 
WPUS in 1935 where he blocked with Oehler; testified 
for prosecution in anti-communist witchhunt proceed- 
ings from 1938. 

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Spartacist ANZ Pub. Co. 
GPO Box 3473 
Sydney 2001 

Britain and Ireland 

Spartacist Publications 
PO Box 1041 
London NW5 3EU 


Spartacist Canada Pub. Assoc. 
Box 6867, Station A Toronto, 
Ontario M5W 1X6 

United States 

Spartacist Publishing Co. 
Box 1377 GPO 
New York, NY 10116 

Prometheus Research Library 

A Working Archive of American and International Marxist History, 
Documentation and Related Interests 

The Prometheus Research Library is -a working research 
facility for a wide range of Marxist studies and also the cen- 
tral reference archive of the Spartacist League of the U.S., 
section of the International Communist League (Fourth 
Internationalist). Library holdings include substantial mate- 
rials on the organizations inspired and led by Marx, Engels, 
Lenin and Trotsky, as well as works on related topics, some- 
times remote. The purpose of the PRL is to collect, preserve 
and make available the historical record of the international 
workers movement and to assist Marxist scholarship. It is 
both a strength and weakness of the PRL that it is necessar- 
ily centered upon the work and interests of the American 
Communist and Trotskyist movement. 

The Library's collection, which does not circulate, grew 
out of the forty-year accumulated and organized holdings of 
James Robertson, both correspondence and printed materi- 
als. The collection now includes over 5,600 books and peri-' 
odical volumes, 100 reels of microfilmed documents and 
periodicals, and 150 linear feet of archival documents and 
bulletins. Particular emphasis is on minutes of leading com- 
mittees and internal discussion material. Approximately 
three-quarters of the holdings are in English, with significant 
materials in German and Russian, as well as French, 
Spanish, Polish and other languages. The Library also con- 
tains the published works of many non-Marxist authors who 
strike our interest. 

The Library has its own publishing program, making 
available rare materials that are an indispensable part of 
the documentary history of the Trotskyist movement. 
This bulletin is the fifth in the Prometheus Research Series 
(see page 85). In 1992 the Library published its first book, 

James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Commu- 
nism, Selected Writings and Speeches, 1920-1928. In 1993 
the PRL published a Russian-language edition of Leon 
Trotsky's The Communist International After Lenin, making 
key founding documents of world Trotskyism available to 
Russian readers for the first time. 

The PRL is also the distributor of bound volumes and 
microfilm editions of periodicals published by the Inter- 
national Communist League. At present, these include: 
Workers Vanguard (1970-1999), the biweekly newspaper of 
the Spartacist League/U.S.; the press of its youth organiza- 
tion, Young Spartacus (1971-1978); and the ICL theoretical 
journal Spartacist in both English (1964-1987) and German 
(1974-1982) editions. Each volume or microfilm roll con- 
tains a complete cross-referenced index and sets are available 
at modest cost. 

The Prometheus Research Library is open to qualified 
scholars needing our specialized collections. Since the Library 
operates on a limited schedule, researchers are required to send 
written requests about specific projects and for appointments. 
A brochure further describing the Library is available. 

Please address all inquiries to: 

Prometheus Research Library 
Box 185, Canal Street Station 
New York, NY 10013 

Prometheus Research Library Western Station 
Box 32463, Civic Center Station 
Oakland, CA 94604 
Phone: (510) 839-0853 

— — : Prometheus Research Library Book — 

James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism 
Selected Writings and Speeches, 1920-1928 

James P. Cannon (1890-1974) was a founding leader of 
American Communism and later a central collaborator of 
Leon Trotsky. This volume of Cannon's writings, which 
covers the period when Cannon was one of the principal 
leaders of the American section of the Communist Inter- 
national, fills a gap in his published works. A supplement, 
to Theodore Draper's two-volume history of American 
Communism's first decade and to Cannon's own The First 
Ten Years of American Communism, this book provides new 
and revealing documentary material on the American party 
and sheds new light on the Stalinization of the Communist 

Published in 1992. 624 pages, smyth-sewn binding, historical 
introduction, glossary, bibliography, index, photographs. 
$14.50 paper. (NYS residents add 8.25% sales tax. Shipping 
and handling $3.50) ISBN 0-9633828-1-0. 
Order from/ make checks payable to: Spartacist Publishing 
Company, Box 1377 GPO, New York, NY 10116. 

ISBN 0-9633828-6-1 

780963 382863 

50600 )